Where do you call home?

I grew up in Kansas City and moved to NY after graduating. I also lived in Germany for 2 years and Haiti for 11 years, but I came back to NYC, which is where I currently hang my hat and where I feel most ‘at home’.

How did you get your start in retouching? Is there any formal training in your background? How did your interest in retouching begin?

I have a BFA in Painting from The Kansas City Art Institute, so I have a traditional background in art. I would have laughed if anyone would have told me I’d go digital, but in the 90’s a photographer friend of mine in Haiti started using Illustrator and I started peeking over his shoulder as he worked. Soon after I moved back to the US and discovered Photoshop. I don’t know what happened, I just couldn’t leave it alone and dropped everything to teach myself everything Photoshop. I didn’t know for sure what I was going to do with it, but then I found retouching and thankfully stumbled upon a retouching position at a Photo Lab and got hired. It was a hard strict job requiring long hours, but that’s where I honed my craft. Later I learned more upscale retouching, but fixing mistakes by lower end photographers at that lab was what sharpened and challenged both my artistic and technical skills.

When it comes to equipment what are you using in regards to monitor etc?

I work on a Mac Pro quad core and swear by my CG211 Eizo Monitor. The larger monitors have issues, so I use the 211 and have a second monitor to keep my Photoshop panels open.

What is your opinion on the current trends of retouching?

I like most of the trends as of late; more natural skin, less plastic. We used to always “over” saturate images, I never liked that, now the trend is a little ‘de’ saturated, which feels more modern and ‘cool’. I still appreciate very artsy retouching, advertising is an art form, I don’t want to see ads that have no conceptual artistic thought and effort attached to it.

Do you have a favorite image that you’ve retouched?

Of course! But that always changes as I get and retouch new images. I have favorite photographers and favorite jobs, Some jobs are more generic and less artsy/edgy. I like the jobs I am challenged by, and given artistic freedom on.

What aspects of photo retouching do you find the most challenging?

Color is always the most challenging. Structure is easy; you’ll always eventually get there, but color is subjective. I’ve spent an entire day color correcting a eyeshadow compact. OK, ok, it was a cake with a raise design in the middle that had an iridescent over-spray, which never captures in the shot, so I had to create the iridescence, but still it too all day for 4 cakes. Color and shape/contrast moves are what I spend most of my time on.

I should mention redoing the hairstyles of certain shots can be pretty challenging.

How much direction do you typically receive from the client?

My answer to that is; Every client is different. Some give lots of direction and others rely on my discretion. I learn the preferences of each client and usually know how far to go. I sometimes have to go farther and sometimes have to put back something I’ve removed.

How much time do you typically spend on an image? What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent?

I can spend as little as 3 or 4 hours on an image to 60 hours or more. An editorial that just needs a little clean up and overall color move won’t take long, whereas a Beauty spread that has a beauty shot (the head shot), products, a lifestyle (full body shot) and a compiled background may take weeks. It’s hard to say how long exactly since the file goes back to the client for further corrections from 4 to 15 times on a big job.

If anything, what won’t you do to an image that a client might ask for?

I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t try to make happen if I was asked, unless perhaps if I thought it would make the image look bad or ridiculous. I’ve had some of my best successes when my clients pushed me to do the impossible!

How has digital photography changed your job or how you approach retouching?

The only change for me is that I get my files in digital RAW format and haven’t had to scan an image in years!

Any advice for other people who want to make retouching their career?

Practice, practice, practice.

To view more of Carrie’s please follow these links:

Also watch out for Carrie’s New book:

Real Retouching
A Professional Step- By – Step Guide

Publication Date:
March 15, 2011

Description (source Focal press)

From the perfect glossy pages of a magazine to the larger-than-life images floating on a billboard in the sky, image retouching has become a key component of today’s digital photography world. So popular, in fact, that the sheer act of retouching has become its own verb as we often ask ourselves, “I wonder if this image was Photoshopped?” Sometimes controversial but widely accepted, and even expected, excellent retouching skills are crucial to finding success in the field of digital imaging. As you work through the clear step-by-step instructions in the book using the images provided on the bonus CD, you’ll learn how to do real retouching jobs from start to finish, including each and every technical step along the way. You’ll also get behind the scenes advice for talking to clients and establishing a workflow to ensure that your client gets the results they are looking for. If you’re a student or aspiring professional just starting out in the world of retouching, the information found in this book can help you find work in the advertising/retouching industry. If you’re already a working photographer, you’ll be able to add retouching to your repertoire as an additional offering to your clients. Carrie Beene is a professional retoucher and educator who has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious companies, including Revlon, MAC, and L’Oreal, and has contributed imagery to such renowned publications as the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Vanity Fair. In this excellent new book, she’ll share the techniques she has learned and developed over the years to help you navigate the often mysterious world of image retouching.

*Offers insider advice through never before published retouching secrets to give you a leg up on the competition
*Includes practical and thorough coverage of exactly how to fix real life problems that you can apply to any retouching job, so that you can present yourself and your work like a professional
*The only book of its kind that focuses solely on retouching for the aspiring retoucher or working professional