Atomik Perspective: Retouch – Behind the Glass with Nigel Barker

I’m with Nigel Barker on this one – retouching how we look has been around for millennia:  be it clothes, hairstyles, make-up, working out etc.  As humans we manipulate how we look all the time.

I’m a professional photographer, so I retouch.  Shock horror, but I do – however as Nigel says in his #BehindTheGlass video, I’m not flippant about the impact, nor the responsibility that comes with retouching.

I categorise my retouch in my own mind:

  • composition > cropping
  • lighting > levels adjustment
  • colour management > hue-saturation-colour balance
  • artistic > cloning, healing, liquify

The first 3 types of retouch I will apply to all types of photography in varying degrees, despite trying to get the closest results in camera as possible particularly with good lighting and composition.  Colour manipulation is particularly good for creating certain moods, be it sunny and happy, or classic and elegant, colour manipulation is a powerful tool.

The last type of retouch, the artistic physical manipulations such as skin retouch, removal of stray hairs, slight physical features manipulation I only apply to fashion/beauty imagery.  It’s a personal choice of mine to not ‘artistically’ manipulate wedding or family images, those of me or my daughter, because I feel personal photography like weddings, family, and portraiture should be accurate likenesses of people.  I do retouch such images using light and colour management, but I don’t physically or structurally alter their looks.  For fashion/beauty images though, I do artistically retouch.

I do see fashion and beauty imagery as different to lifestyle imagery – it’s about aspiration, it’s about inspiration, and an ideal.  Clients, advertising, and entertainment aren’t about reality, and it’s not about passing off those images as real, but being open about the artistry that goes into creating such imagery.  It’s a fine balance though, since I know portraiture in magazines, and even lifestyle and wedding images are manipulated now too.

Whatever your stance on retouching, just remember we all do it, all the time.  As Nigel said, the simple of act of brushing your hair is retouching yourself…




Icon: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey - The Icon

From Roman Holiday to Funny Face, Sabrina to Breakfast at Tiffany’s – since I was a child, the uninhibited laughter, and the glow of her being captivated me.  Audrey Hepburn beat every other iconic star for me.

It would have been her 85th Birthday, and to celebrate her memory, here are some of my favourite images of her – lucky photographers who got to work with such a creature:


The Artisan : Karen Brost

Karen Brost London SS14

When I first saw the pitch Karen Brost had made to Selfridges for her new range of artisan babywear, I was in awe of the intricate hand drawn illustrations, with rich colours and a stunning yet dark twist on kids wear. I was in love!

So how excited was I when Karen asked me to shoot her next 14/15 collection??? Very!

With her collection snapped up by Selfridges, Liberty of London, and Alex & Alexa – the official unveiling of the collection will be this July @ the Bubble Show in London.

Watch this space for images from our awesome shoot with the cutest of kids wearing the lushest of fashions…

In the meantime you can buy her designs from the SS2014 collection from the Karen Brost London website:

The Ink Evangelist


Just a few weeks ago I discovered one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, and thus began my journey of inspiration, admiration, and colouring in.  Yes.  Colouring in.

‘Secret Garden, An Inky Treasure Hunt’ by Johanna Basford is a grown up colouring book of exquisite ink designs.  Combining nature, with Asian art elements, all with a feel of the ornate Victorian era too, Johanna creates the most delicious imagery that captivates the audience.  So much so, my mum totally coveted my copy and I had to go buy some more!

Intrigued by the book, I was even more blown away by Johanna’s portfolio and the clients she’s worked for, from fashion imagery, to music album artwork, to major ad campaigns.  Ok enough gushing, take a look at her amazing work, and indulge the artist in you by getting your own copy of Secret Garden.