My photo
Josefina is twenty one year old East Coast Based Photographer with a fan base worldwide. Born an artist, she works to show the world what she sees when she looks through the lens. She's been working with cameras since she was twelve: including polaroid, analog, digital & black/white film. You can often find her throughout her hideouts on the web, on her Twitter, snuggling with her a cat, or collecting stuffed animals...."professionally." To her, "dull" does not exist.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Perfection, Retouching, And A Photographer's Eye

Retouching Work For Dr. Carla Johnson

"We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person, perfectly." - Sam Keen

It's been a long while since I have sat down to write anything, really. I have a good excuse, and I have a lame one, but I won't bore you with either. All I will say is that life has been good at throwing me curve balls lately, and they are the kind that smack you hard. I come back here today, to address the subject of "retouching".

For every photographer, how they go through the editing process is very different. Some adjust the contrast and the lighting that they missed on the camera - so it's good to go, some people run actions that they have bought off of other photographers, some people edit the skin down to a precise detail, some use photoshop, others use Lightroom (or some other program that I'm not familiar with), some change the backgrounds, and some strongly believe in fantasy edits. The point is, every artist is different, and therefore, they will see their work differently than how you do.

Before & After of "We're Not In Kansas Anymore"
Copyright © Josefina Photography 2012
In my case, I don't just see the work differently, I see people differently. Part of this, you all can physically see when I retouch an image. I tend to have strong ties with people who I find beautiful in every way. You may not see yourself as beautiful (most people don't), but chances are, if I'm friends with you - it has something to do with a sight of perfection. So, when I work, I edit accordingly.

This also means that I see the sky, nature, and the beauty around us differently. The sight enters my eyes just like it would to anyone, but my brain changes the details of what is being seen. To you now, on the East Coast, you should see a pale blue sky, some softly painted-looking fluffy white clouds, and if you live in the mountains - a darker blue tint to those that are far away. I see a brilliant sky, it's the blue color that you can only find in Opals, the clouds look like paintings, soft white, and faded into the Opal's color, as though the artist was trying to make them belong. The mountains are nearly a topaz color, a harsher contrast to the sky - but with hints of green, almost calling you to come closer. The tree directly out of my window is both an auburn brown and an emerald green, and while the sunlight may come off to you as slightly yellow, or even white light, I see gold. So, like I said, I live in a very different world when it comes to how you see, and what I see.

Before & After of "Good Morning, My Love"
Copyright © Josefina Photography 2012
This realm of vision applies to people as well. Within the last seven to ten images that I have put out for the world's viewers to enjoy, I have gotten both comments and private messages about the way I retouch. Some people are concerned that I am falling victim to the fashion world's plight of this undesirable need that everything needs to be perfect, some people feel as though I have made an image even more beautiful, some people have a hard time understanding why the colors were changed, or why makeup was added digitally. But the ones that really caught my attention, were the ones who were in shock that I could perform "age reversal" in Photoshop, and do it well.

It never occurred to me that I was performing any type of "age reversal," and it actually took me a good long minute of staring at the writer's words for me to comprehend what they were saying. You see, I retouch people to how they look to me. This doesn't mean that I go off and change their facial structure, or the color of their eyes. This also means that I don't add in implants, and (unless requested) don't sit there and knock off the pounds. I simply take the image into photoshop and recreate what my brain remembers, from the colors, down to a person's look, based off of what I know, I saw.

Retouched Work For Steve Brown, Dr. Carla Johnson & Lea Dodson
What does this mean for when I retouch other people's work? When I wasn't the photographer, and I wasn't there for the initial creation of the image, how would I retouch then? Simple. I retouch them how I view them, as though I was there. That takes an incredible amount of inward vision and imagination. I look at the photographer's request for the image, and I look at the people, and then I retouch them as I would, if I had worked with them. The above image is an example of that. I retouched that piece long before I knew Steve Brown, Dr. Carla Johnson (Dr. Lightness) & Lea Dodson in person. They wanted a story board of events, and sent the images in the order that they wanted. Then it was up to me to stitch it all together. It was by far one the longest projects I had ever worked on. Not only did the stitching if the images & the general color correction & light balance take roughly 8 hours to complete, I was also paying attention to the details of their faces, their bodies, their movement and their chemistry. All of this is factored into an editing an image that is not mine. In this case, not only did I have to pay attention to the chemistry with them, but I had to guess their chemistry with the photographer, or the retouching would never have worked. Sure, I could get the images stitched together, and the light balance and such corrected, but there would have been something off about the images if I didn't sit there and spend that time.

Many of you often wonder why I don't spit out images like a factory machine, why I don't "bulk-process" images in Lightroom, and how and why I can go days without editing, leaving everyone drooling for more. The truth of the matter is, I simply can't. My images are created with a particular vision in mind, and it takes more than just the props, makeup, hair, and .raw image to get it. Bulk-processing images would drive me crazy. My work is not to look the same in every image, some people like that, but I couldn't handle it. Especially because that fast process does't allow me to recreate what I saw. It ends up just messing me up, or even confusing me. Sometimes it takes time for me to find the energy to create what it was I saw, and therefore I need to step back, and take a minute, a day, a week to be able to create again. I can't really explain why it works the way it does, but that is just how I function as an artist.

Model: Holly Parker // Copyright © Josefina Photography 2012
As for the concern that I am "over perfecting" people, or I have been sucked into the fashion realm's swimming pool of negative thoughts and needs, I would like to assure you, my dear friends, that I am not and I haven't. I will always see people much differently than you do, and in some cases that means, that yes, I see them perfectly, as perfection. True beauty of every level within a person is truly hard to find, but once found, it is impossible to ignore. I strive to find that with the people I work with, so I can better capture who they are and the image that I hope to create. I have not fallen victim to society's standards, although I'm sure a few of you might say then, that I was born from it. (Haters, I'm talking to you). No, to put it very simply, I've been living in a visual parallel world alongside you for a long, long time. That will never change.

Goddess // Model: Dr. Carla Johnson
Copyright © Josefina Photography 2013


  1. What a wonderful post! I can't thank you enough for all you have done for and with me. I am at work on a post of my own about the "Goddess" image. You know by now how much I love it!!!

    1. And I can't thank you enough for all that you've done for and with me! Thank you for being such a creative spirit!