Artisanal drinks being made, in process

April Fools! Photo Retouching It’s Not Magic, It’s An Art Form

Over the years photo retouching has been controversial. What is real (in camera) and what is changed and manipulated (in post and at the hands of a person sitting at the computer)? The controversy usually comes from brands or editors who take license with a curvy female body and make it overly thin (we call that the nip tuck). It can also be frowned upon when the enhancement and/or restoration of a digital or printed photograph looks overtly obvious or “fake.” When a retoucher is an artist, however, the eye cannot detect a heavy hand or even a light hand. The retouching artist puts the finishing touch on the overall look of the image making it a creative masterpiece.

When retouching is incorporated into an overall creative plan it becomes an integral part of a photography assignment and is a welcomed team member on the assignment. Jon Birdseye, master retoucher and creative partner, likes to be included in the photography assignment early on in the process.

“If I know what the photographer is going to be shooting upfront I can talk to her/him about what pieces of the puzzle I need prior to retouching. It is in that communication that we can all be most efficient. There is nothing worse than a client asking me to recreate something out of nothing. If I need extra drips on a bottle, for instance, I will ask the photographer to shoot those alongside the main bottle so in post I will have something to work with.” Says Birdseye.

"When I work with Jon I know he has my back, especially in situations where I need to show a reflection, enhance a color or add or take away from an image." Says food photographer Sarah Flotard. “He is so skilled and creative that it is a pleasure to have him on board any project.”

Below are some amazing images Jon retouched for a variety of clients. Before and after images can be found on his site at

To work with Jon, contact Sally Bjornsen here.