Alexander Wätzel is a Germany-based fashion and beauty retoucher at his own dgtl-craft.com. In this Artist Spotlight feature, we’d love to introduce you to his beautiful work and some insights into his artistic processes.
I started working with clients and established my retouching business “dgtl-craft.com” back in 2014. Before that, I was retouching my own images.
My biggest achievement in my career so far was a project I did at the end of last year. The client flew me to Cape Town to be the on-set retoucher for a huge production shoot. The fact that the they put their trust in me as the retoucher to refine and make the best out of everybody else’s work is why I call this an achievement.
My workflow is quite straight-forward:
- I develop the RAW files in Capture One and export them as PSD files straight to Photoshop;
- The first thing I do in Photoshop is liquifying if needed;
- Then, I do my basic clean-up using mainly the Healing Brush;
- After that is basically just Dodge & Burn. I start zoomed out, fixing major skin „flaws“ and then zoom in to areas that need more work;
- The final step in my workflow is color grading the image according to my liking or the client’s needs. For this step, I mainly work with Curves, Selective Color, and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.
ME AND MY CLIENTS
I work with a handful of regular major clients and I also take on some minor projects from other photographers now and then.
I think it’s very important to keep your clients coming back to you – this means they value your work and skills. You have to always bring your A-game to the table, otherwise, you’ll end up working for one-off clients and that isn’t really how you grow a successful retouching business.
As for finding clients, when I first started out I would send out a lot of e-mails. This is something that’s essential and I am still doing it today. I think the most important thing you can do is to constantly push your work out there as much as you can. Having a decent portfolio is also a must.
MY GROWTH AS AN ARTIST
It doesn’t matter how busy I am, I always do my very best to take some time to learn new techniques, keep up with what’s happening on the technical market (software, tablets, laptops, etc.) and surf the Web for inspiration. I also like watching video tutorials while working to refresh my skills or learn something new.
ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS
First things first, you have to get started. Quite a few people in the creative industry are holding themselves back by procrastinating and spending time on other less important things. For example, they need a new website before they reach out to clients but they postpone it until they finish that special project so they can show it first and so on and so on. None of that matters if nobody knows you’re out there.
In addition, you should always keep the business side of a creative job in mind. Sure, you should deliver the highest quality possible, but you also need to do your pricing right. This will not only ensure you’re able to sustain yourself, pay your rent, etc. but will also help you find your place in the market without ruining it for other people.
When I was first starting out (and it still happens now and then) there were so many people approaching me, asking if I would test for free or for a very low rate because it’s for this or that magazine. I mostly deny those offers because I’m convinced that quality has its price. You should be very selective with whom you’re testing and if it’s really pushing your portfolio.
It is not only the retouching skills you should push – social skills are also very important. You should go out there and meet people and potential clients, they need to know the person behind that e-mail address. I travel quite a lot even though I could work from home for most of my clients. But it is such a different thing if you’re present in, for example, Cape Town, LA or Dubai because people notice you a lot quicker especially on Instagram or Facebook. Working for clients of different nationalities has also made my portfolio look very versatile with lots of different backgrounds, sceneries, and colors.