Photo Illustration & Retouching: When Reality Doesn't Measure Up

Creative, Guides / January 12, 2021

By Rich Murphy

OBATA skilled digital artists retouching example

What happens when reality doesn’t fit the objective?

Photography involves more than just taking pictures. It usually includes a variety of steps to get the desired result. This can mean planning, inspiration, creativity and editing photos to effectively communicate a message and visually tell the intended story.

When there isn’t the exact image that’s needed available, our skilled digital artists, who excel in composition and editing images, are asked to construct and adjust the image carefully. They use their expertise and abilities to craft a visually stunning and believable image that resonates with the viewer.

To achieve a perfect and beautiful result, we get our professional photography team involved. They understand the technical aspects of photography and carefully arrange the camera settings, lighting, resolution, and angles for each part of the photo that will be combined. By making sure everything is in harmony, our team ensures the final image is clear and captivating to the viewer, leaving a lasting impression.

In this short article, we’ll look at three examples of where the reality of the situation didn’t measure up to the expectations of the client or us. Photo retouching and illustration were needed to make the impossible believable.

What is photo retouching?

Photo retouching is the process of altering an image to improve its appearance, which can include removing blemishes, adjusting lighting and colors, and even changing the shape or size of objects or people in the photo. Photographers and graphic designers can manipulate images with editing software to create a desired effect.

Following these best practices

Here are some best practices we consider when engaging in photo retouching and illustration:

  • We focus on our attention to detail and maintaining authenticity: When retouching a photo, our team pays attention to details such as blemishes, lighting, and colors. The goal is to enhance the image while still maintaining its authenticity. Avoid over-editing or making drastic changes that may make the photo look unrealistic or artificial.

  • We always consider the intended audience and purpose of the photo: Before retouching or illustrating a photo, it’s important to consider the intended audience and the purpose of the photo. Different audiences may have different preferences and expectations. For example, a photo for a fashion magazine may require more extensive retouching to meet industry standards, while a documentary photo may require minimal editing to preserve its authenticity.

  • We are always balancing creativity with enhancing the original image: Photo retouching and illustration offer opportunities for creativity and artistic expression. However, it’s important to strike a balance between creativity and enhancing the original image. The edits should enhance the photo without overshadowing the main subject or distracting from the intended message.

Making the impossible believable: Real-world digital composition examples

Photo retouching and illustration are important techniques in photography that require attention to detail and a balance between creativity and maintaining the authenticity of the original image. Our digital artists have tackled some common issues in photo editing and photo illustrating that we encounter every day.

The Executives and Board Members Photoshoot: It’s not always possible for all team members to be simultaneously available

The composition of the executive photo (located on the right-hand side) required advanced planning in order to achieve the desired outcome. Not all members of the team were available at the time of the photoshoot. Due to scheduling conflicts, one executive had to photographed separately and added in later during the post-production stage. The final composition was assembled from four different images to ensure each executive looked there best.

digital composition example

Conveying the right story

The image below (left) is the original image as shot by our photographer. It has been retouched and enhanced to include wall and desktop screens. These screens were not available when the original image was taken. The final photo composition tells the story the client intended believably.

digital composition and image retouching

Not the right environment

This example shows how camera optics, angle, and lighting were matched in a studio setting. This makes the executive appear to have been recorded in the real environment.

photo illustration example

How OBATA Can Help

When hiring skilled photo retouchers and illustrators, it is important to consider their experience and expertise in the field. Look for professionals who have a strong portfolio showcasing their previous work and demonstrate a deep understanding of optics, lighting, and composition.

Obata has more than 70 years of photographic expertise, and we’ve been immersed in digital art since the technology was first introduced.