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LONDON  Only 20 places! 

LONDON  Only 20 places! 

frank-neo asked: Hi Natalia,I had see your vedio and learn more technique,Thanks you a lot.But I still have question troubled me a long time.Just is that how can I get fashion skin tone when complished DB.I don't know how to do and I try to find a answer from youtube,even though I seems not good.

How long have you been doing it? Being good at D&B takes a lot of practice

mehmetkocaman asked: Usually people are saying work with 16 bit.But I m confused about that.I shoot raw and open the file as a 8 bit with adobe camera raw . If I chance 8 bit to 16 bit in photoshop I've lost my info already ? I mean It must be open as a 16 bit with Adobe Camera Raw without lose info from raw file ?

You always lose info when converting but if you want to work in 16 bits you can export from
Camera raw or Lightroom or capture one directly in 16 bits

kar197 asked: Bonjour... i have nothing to ask but something to say... THANK YOU ! your advice and philosophie help me a lot in my will to become a real good retoucher. I'm French, so if you organise a workshop in Paris maybe i will participate. Have a good day. PS - Forgive my english :-) Karim.

Thank you :)

yhwhs-only asked: Hi, My name is Sarah. I am an 18 year old student studying a 2 year Graphic Design & Illustration course at Plymouth College of Art. My course comes to an end in June this year so I have been investigating future career opportunities. During my research I came across high-end photo re-touching and your training products. I am very interested in pursuing this field as a career & I was wandering if there was any advice you could give me as to how I would go about achieving this? Thanks in advance

I have several posts about that:
“So you want to be a retoucher”
“Unsolicited advice I and II “
The client is always right

Have you read them?


London and Rome you can ask about it :)

How we learn. About criteria and talent

We all learn in the same way. Rather, the same two ways: A conscious way and an unconscious way.

The conscious one, we can think of it as a ladder.

- First Step -

We all start in a state of unconscious incompetence, in which we can’t know what we do not know, ignorance of ignorance.

You could say that when we discover photoshop and modify some photos (put the head of a friend in the body of Jean -Claude Van Damme as a game) we are all there, we suck but we have no idea. Nobody says it. Everyone compliments you .

The first things I did in photoshop were horrible but I thought I was the next prodigy in the subject and that everything I did was great! However, the harsh reality was that I was not evenclose. Of course I did not have the discretion to notice.  Until one day someone literally told me : Baby, you suck.

- Second Step -

Conscious Incompetence

The knowledge of ignorance.

Here is where things change. Once we stop cryingin the corner of the room asking “why did this happen to me,” we makea decision between learning or just keep on sucking.

If we decide to learn: we study, read, ask ,watch videos, tutorials, bother people in the industry give us their ultra secret techniques (cough cough ) practice and practiced some more until, more or less, we can do it. Then we are in the third step.

- Third Step -

State of Conscious Competence is the knowledge of what is known. Yes, I can retouch photos, maybe we even paid for it , but even then, we have to go back occasionally to a tutorial or think about the steps . I am also aware of my shortcomings and my limits.

This state is the longest and where mostpeople are as it takes years sometimes of practice to get to the next step.  Some will never leave this stage.

- Fourth -

Unconscious Competence. I do not even think about it, I make aesthetic decisions without being able to explain why. It seems to be easy for me and I appear as a natural talent. Who ever sees me working assumes that I was born with a Wacom pen in my hand, that I have a special feeling for art and photography and that I’m a genius.

Which is absolutely untrue since neither genius nor talent are a real thing in my opinion.

Once a critic called Sarasate (a greatSpanish violinist) a “genius “. Irritated, he shook his head and exclaimed,”Genius ” for thirty-seven years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day and now they call me a genius!.

Practice is the process by which we train the brain to respond automatically when we’re not under pressure, so you do not have to think about when you are. 

" The only truth is reality"Aristotle

The reality is that the concept of talent, so ingrained in our society, falls through and the greatest artists end up being nothing but a group of humans with a common history and skills developed according to their life experiences. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is called, in all the biographies, a prodigy child. What is not taken into account in the history books is that Mozart’s father was a mediocre musician and Mozart ‘s older sister a frustrated in advance musician (simply because of being female)

Sure, if after three years of sitting a child at the piano and forcing him to practice for hours daily, at 5 years we will have a great pianist. Show me a child prodigy and show you a mild case of child abuse. 

Nobody is born with talent and no one is born with discretion. The criteria, or sensitivity to visual art forms as well as visual perception is developed in the same way you develop your palate for food.

 An example I always give is wine (Like the good argentine I am)

6 years ago did not drink red wine, I did not like it, did not know how to appreciate it. At that point I could have been given an Italian Cabernet worth 300 euros, the best grapes and the best year and a glass of the worse quality house case wine, and I wouldn’t have told the difference. Simply because my palate wasn’t developed to recognize the difference.

Today, after much (much) practice, I can recognize 4 different glasses of different grapes: cabernet, malbec, syrah, pinot noir simply because I developed my palate. But still, I could not separate a cabernet 1996 from one of 2012 and is not because they are not distinctive enough - A sommelier would be shocked at my ignorance - but because I still have to learn. So I still have a lot of practice ahead, to be able to compete with the restaurant maître.

Likewise, we can train the eye to distinguish the good from the bad, from the ugly. Tones and luminosity densities.

Unconscious learning is completely different and has more to do purely with the sensory experience.

From birth or even before[1] we are constantly exposed to stimuli from which we learn.

A simple example: I go to the stove; I get burnt, hot stove.

The brain stores this information in the database and constantly confirms it to then alter perception and adapt behavior.

This also explains why a girl of only 9 years old sings ‘O mio expensive Babino ’ just seeing some videos on youtube[2], a little research will show that the father is an organist, she’s got flautist mother and her brother plays the violin. I let you draw your own conclusions about her.

I will not go into detail about what is generated in childhood, as we have no control over it, and it’s to late to do something about it. But something we can control is the stimulus to which we expose ourselves in the process of becoming experts.

Every time we look at a photograph of poor quality we are teaching the brain “This is how a picture should look”. No matter how many years then, we practice the craft, our idea of “should be”is wrong and therefore, basically, we would be practicing, again and again, how to take ugly pictures.

That happened to me at first. When I got into the subject of retouching I did it as a hobby, I didn’t know there was an outlet for the skill since I didn’t even know there was a market.

If I’m completely honest, I had no idea there was a market for fashion or photography. To me, a fashion photographer was a man who wanted to see scantily clad ladies so he put a camera in between so that his intentions were not so transparent. Perverts, with expensive equipment. Now I know the reality of the industry from inside so I can tell you that I was correct: photographers are perverts with expensive equipment, but most of those who are successful also have the knowledge and skills to generate beautiful art.

But, in short, I did not have the judgment to separate the good photography (references) from the bad ones.

You might be wondering now… Is there a way to generate criteria? Because, so far, it sounds like a “catch 22”.

In fact I’d go to the extreme of claiming most people are here, they lack the right “should be” to be able to generate interesting content in spite of having tried and practiced for years.


Nobody is born with good taste and you need to consume good things to generate criteria and keep it sharpen it.

How can you discriminate what “good things”are, however, if you do not know?

By understanding and accepting two basic axioms

1. There is good and bad beyond personaltaste (as

Kant expressed)

2 . In every art form there are different strata.

You can describe any creative market with a series of concentric circles.

(Vanguard (masses (Quality( ELITE ) Value ) masses ) Vanguard)

From the outside in, the largest to the smallest:

Vanguard: Beyond the artistic movement with the same name , the most basic meaning of the word comes from the experimentation, as in trying new things.

There is where most who start a new discipline, are.  In my classes I always emphasize that, in order to break the rules, we must know them first. One ofthe hardest bad habits to break in new photographers/retouchers/designers isthis one. I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “I do not need to know how other people do it because I want to do something different to everyone, my own style”

Because it’s so common and comes from normal socially conditioned behavior, this circle is the one that contains more individuals.

Masses: As we all know, it doesn’t take muchto satisfy the needs of masses. With a little glitter, lights and bright colors one can generate a reaction among people and become a ” success[3]" overnight.

Examples abound. From reality TV without any cultural content but with a lot rating, through the singer with very nice attributes but none of them is the voice, to the cases we are most competent in the industry and the ones THAT ARE MY PERSONAL pet peeve:

Photography gurus with thousands of fans and no portfolio, those who never appeared in any magazine, not exhibited in any museum or work for any brands, and yet make a living telling others what to do and get rich thanks to the ignorant novice.

Quality: This is where the circle gets smaller; it has fewer people in it and it’s more difficult to meet the standards proposed in this stratum. I always say that it doesn’t matter if your photo has ONLY 3 likes if they are project managers of advertising agencies.The true meaning of high end has to do with quality, finished detail.

What determines the quality will be different in different markets, but there are always parameters that are common within each niche and to determine, establish and even create these parameters we follow those in the elite.

Elite: In any market there is an elite of trendsetters.

If one wants to pursue editorial portrait one needs to buy magazines like Rolling Stones, Times, Esquire; get to know photographers ranging from Richard Avedon, via Marco Grob and Platon to the controversial Terry Richardson.

If you want to make it into fashion your magazine rack will not miss the latest issue of Vogue or Numéro and names likePeter Lindbergh, Mario Testino and Mert & Marcus will draw a smile to your face.

When it comes to a commercial market, theelite consists of brands, who did the last season Gucci (fashion), Rolex ad (StillLife), Max or Lancome (Beauty), etc.

Understanding the niche in which one moves, its codes and languages, is another important part of the learning process.

Finally and concluding:

Visual perception (the critical eye ,sensitivity to art, or whatever you want to call it) can be developed.

Nobody is born with culture. Beyond a possible minimum, genetic predisposition or prenatal/early childhood influence,one has to generate it - with time and dedication - Keep it and cultivate it.


[1] Annie Murphy Paulscientific writer calls it the gray zone between nature and nurture in his bookOrigines

[2] Willighagen of “Holland ‘s Got Talent”

[3] Success is, in my opinion,doing what you like best most of the time.

Unethical, dishonest scumbag

Remember this?
Same guy!
Scumbags never learn!

About Me

Natalia Taffarel

My name is Natalia Taffarel, I’m from Argentina and my life is retouching. Becoming a Digital Artist was a natural progression for me. I have a background in Advertising and Graphic Design, and I was born in to a family of printers, therefore I grew up with a great understanding of colour theory and I learnt every method of traditional printing in side out. I began learning Photoshop as a hobby, which quickly turned in to an obsession. My printing background proved useful, as many of the filters that are used in the Photoshop are based on the analogue methods which aided in my understanding. I have since become a Certified Adobe Expert, and built up a strong client base. I find the retouching process an inspired way to take a good image and develop it in to something perfect, or to make a perfect image amazing. I’m a neurotic, detail maniac, control freak who thinks beauty is shown solely through the details. Everything has a hidden beauty and it’s my job to unleash it. I believe hard and constructive criticism is the only way of achieving continued self-improvement. I strive to be the best. As you can see… I’m also modest!

Favorite Quote

Beauty is shown solely through the details