Should retouchers get equal credit?

August 01, 2012 / Post-Production
Russell Brand Appears as Captain Hook in New Disney Parks Dream Portrait by Annie Leibovitz

I just saw these new behind the scenes shots from Annie Leibovitz’s new Disney campaign and I think it’s time that the question gets asked…

Should the retoucher (in this type of extreme compositing situation) get just as much credit as Annie?

I know my opinion but I’m curious to hear yours first…

 

 

 

 

91 comments
Sylvia Dalberg
Sylvia Dalberg

Its not about who works harder.. its about who realy added to the whole creative consept. If both did so then both should be credited...

And in general as an artist I belive in supporting my co workers.

clippingpathspecialist
clippingpathspecialist

This retouching article better if you get enough article, go to clipping path specialist

Ottawa Headshots
Ottawa Headshots

Jeremy, great article.  I think the retoucher was an important as Annie L.

www.ronsullivanheadshots.ca

natnesser
natnesser

What I like about the comments on this post is that most everyone giving their opinion is acting in a respectful non "hater" tone. It is refreshing to see that people can discuss a subject and not trash Annie L. or each other for their opinions. Good job everyone. It makes it a pleasure to read. 

ACandelaPhoto
ACandelaPhoto

When I was a photo assistant 10+ years ago we we're just starting to get credit in magazines. I didn't care back then. But if there is obvious compositing involved I'd say definitely. It comes down to how much creativity was put into the final image. 

littlegreenmouse
littlegreenmouse

I think that re-touchers should definitely get shared credit. The images above are proof that it takes a great deal of artistic talent to render the final image! That talent should be recognized. Perhaps a tag like Original photo and concept by Annie Leibovitz, Re-Rendering Art Prospective by John Doe. That way both "artists" get credit for the work they've done.

SteveDeFeo1
SteveDeFeo1

I used to be a professional photographer's assistant. One time, a NY photographer came to town, and hired me and 3 other locals to assist, along with his regular assist. The photog spent the entire time schmoozing with the client, while his regular assist set up the shot. Literally, he showed up, walked behind the already set up camera, snapped the images for about 10 minutes, and left. Of course, he got all the credit. 

A photographer does not sell a photo. They sell a final image. Like a contractor that builds a house, he/she hires all the subs,. Sometimes, he lays every brick, paints every wall, etc... sometimes he stands and lets the hired help do it all. and in the end, gets the credit / blame / pay for the final result.

If the retoucher wants credit, he/she should go out and sell his creative services directly to clients. If you imagine a wonderful image of a character in the jaws of a croc in a cave, figure out what you need. Hire a photographer to light and shoot your elements, and YOU do the digital work, and present the final image to the client. 

evantide_aaron
evantide_aaron

Also, if you give credit to retouchers.  That is admitting that retouching was done.  Not that we shouldn't but part of the mystique is lost for the consumer if retouching is reported.

evantide_aaron
evantide_aaron

My wife heads to the hospital to have our first child.  We're checked in and then the nurse really takes over.  She was prepping and taking care of my wife.  The anesthesiologist walks in and does his magic.  The birth process begins and the nurse keeps doing her part to keep my wife comfortable and take care of her. Time for birth the doctor walks in (Johnny Bench as Bill Cosby calls em) and catches the baby, hands the baby to the nurse who hands the baby to my wife.  Post birth the anesthesiologist walks in and does his post birth stuff and the nurse just continues to take great care of my wife.  In all of this activity, the doctor performs the birth.  It's not a perfect analogy but the expertise of the photographer with his/her vision and execution is the focus in the midst of so much other talent being a part of the process. 

EdwardFresina
EdwardFresina

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Sieg Minten
Sieg Minten

little addendum: ... even if it was only to get equal chances to spread our name or our business' name. Sometimes I see a publication of an image I worked hard at and am proud of, the photographer & agency get a small "name dropping promotion". I can't help but feel like it's a perfect missed opportunity to have my business name also put out there. That's also part of the "credit where credit is due" thing :)

Sieg Minten
Sieg Minten

I am a retoucher myself and I'm afraid this is the way it works at the moment. I don't necessarily want to put myself in the spotlight but I do believe in giving credit where credit is due. OK, photographers are often chosen for certain jobs because they have a certain vision or style they like to use. But I sometimes wonder why the retoucher is never mentioned, because they/we add a significant part of the final product. But indeed, the same goes for the AD's, who mostly work under an agency's name, "set dressers", DOP in case of a filmset, lighting techs, ... So where do you stop crediting. But I do sTill I feel that retouchers & co work anonymously in the background too often.

Mark Davidson
Mark Davidson

What about AD's who conceive the idea and hire a photographer, location manager, producer, and post production house? I also notice that Annie L. gets a ton of help in lighting and PP.

Mahvash
Mahvash

I am glad you ask that question, we as a artist should support each other .

Justyna
Justyna

i WAS THINKING THE SAME. iS SHEA MASTER IF SHE'S DOING ONLY A HALF OF THE WORK? sHES GREAT IN LIGHTING (OR HER ASSISTANTS), SHES GREAT AT COMPOSING, OR IMGINING HOW THE PHOTO SHOULD LOOK LIKE AT THE END, BUT SHE DOESNT DO , WHAT IS THE HARDEST HERE. I THINK THERE SHOULD BE RETOUCHERS NAME ON IT TOO.

wie
wie

pascal dungin!!!

Myles Erwin
Myles Erwin

Hmmm... well this definitely opens up a can of worms. it is a fascinating topic to be sure. I would venture that it elicits more questions. Like, who are the other people involved? looks like they have an army of people in the BTS images. Don't they get credit as well? How much input did Annie have in the final product? What about the art director? They are ultimately responsible for the direction of a campaign and it's cohesiveness. What about the ad agency used? you have to also consider the sheer weight of the Annie Leibovitz name. In and of itself is a brand that helps to sell stuff. Hmmm... some things to think about.

Mandy knox
Mandy knox

Yes..i agree with most in this post that both are artists, and it is a big collaboration. there is sometimes equal or varying degrees of work put into each production phase..and neither can really be measured on the same scale.

Michael P
Michael P

Absolutely. In my opinion, the retoucher probably deserves as much if not more credit than Liebovitz for these extreme composites. I would even go so far as to say that the retoucher could probably have just done the whole thing him/herself. Beyond such extreme retouching examples, yes, I think the retoucher does deserve half the credit. Retouching is an art.

peter
peter

somebody there wrote that he thinks 'the retoucher should get credit (i agree) and assuming that the retoucher was involved in the planning stages of the shoot. i do doubt that. i do this kind of stuff and what i see - the guy shot at the water with that kind of background and then put into a cave? TOTAL (i hope the letters will come out all capital) - so again - TOTAL waste of trip and man power. the shot of the 3 ghosts next to a tree.. do you see that three anywhere? if she utilized the road they stand on, to actually include it in the final picture - i feel thats it. the other thing is - she MUST do this. otherewise she cannot keep the rates if she shoots everything in the studio (which would result in better more controlled conditions for the retoucher (but its not about the retouchers) so - she takes 20 assistants, 80 million strobes and picks a far far location - then you can write those big numbers on the invoice. i LOVE her work, god knows how much i do.. but these few images are... a big disappointment for me

Lee
Lee

Absolutely, the retoucher has done an amazing job! It should be joint credit!

Paulo Barros
Paulo Barros

ABSOLUTELY! In this type of picture, in my opinion, the retoucher has the hardest part of the work, and sometimes, most of it, NOBODY knows who did the retouching, its unfair.

Anthon Cauper
Anthon Cauper

obviously both need to be credited the photographer because he has the idea and the one who is capturing the image and also the one who does the digital work because without his/her abilities wouldn't be possible to achieve such a good work, in cases where the photographer does the digital work that's different, in my own case I prefer doing my own digital work and photography

Calvin Pennick JR
Calvin Pennick JR

i personally try to do my own retouch work because I believe it is a part of my product that I want to control. However, i do think retouchers should get credit. All people involved should get credit as in any large production. Some retouchers create a completely different image than the one taken which is another issue all together.

Pierre Vignau
Pierre Vignau

I didn't read all the comments so I may be repeating someone's. Isn't the answer of this question based on who gets the initial "vision"? I'M a serious amateur photographer and I enjoy retouching and compositing and I sometmes shoots with a "vision" in mind. So I have to set up the shoot to go along with that vision (the photographer part in me) and I have to influence the shoot so it is not too complicated to play with the result in Photoshop (the retoucher in me). SOmeone mentioned that it may be a combination of the two artists working together; I tend to think that way. But the "vision" person should be the one who gets the most credit.

Karine Ardault
Karine Ardault

in the present instance, the photography part of the final product seems a small part of the work. And the final part pertains more to imagery than photography. So for the present work I would highly credit the retoucher, and even credit the retoucher rather than the photographer.

Mark Nolan
Mark Nolan

its a composition not a photo. so it should be stated who did the photography and who the compositing. on the other hand if the process of making the comp and the idea of how it should look was all overseen and directed by the photographer at his or her studio it can count as their own work. a fine line. it all depends on who has the creative lead.

Kevin wilton
Kevin wilton

Personally, I think there are two ways to be a famous photographer. Either take a famous photograph, this is the harder route or photograph the famous. This second one is easier because you don't seem to need much talent. Look at the work of Linda McCartney (Eastman kodak connection), maplethorpe and leibowitz here. None of these photographers are particularly talented, ok two are dead but they are only examples, but there are others., Here the retoucher made the images, almosy anyone could have taken the photographs, especially when you consider the entourage of assistants she has to hand.

Denver
Denver

I think this is the place for the standard photography answer: It depends. :)

Jamie Lapeyrolerie
Jamie Lapeyrolerie

I definitely think so. Both are artists and both played a role (especially in these images). It’s amazing work for both and I think both should be acknowledged. Even for me (who is clearly not famous), I’ve outsourced for wedding album designs and always acknowledge the company.

Lea
Lea

Yes, definitely. In our digital age, retouchers are just as much of an artist as the photographer. So should the director and producer of such stylized shoots.

Matthew Coughlin
Matthew Coughlin

Assuming the conceptual was done by an AD, then i think the the agency, AD, Photog and retoucher should share equal credit. someone like dave hill would get the all the credit on this because he does the retouching himself.

MaRK Leming
MaRK Leming

I saw A more complete representation of this series on anthonylukephotography's blogspot. Judging from these behind-the-scenes pictures it is obvious Annie has a clear vision and knows exactly how these pictures should look before and after postproduction. That is a far cry from " any decent professional photographer could have photographed these images"... As far as credit goes, I would like to think that everybody gets credit, for it was a group effort, but that Annie's name should be printed in a FONT-SIZE+4.

Russ Robinson
Russ Robinson

In this case, I think the retoucher definitely should, because there were material elements added to the shot that the photographer had nothing to do with. If we were talking about simple embellishments and/or standard portrait retouching techniques being applied, it would be different, but as for the two shots in question, the retouching adds more (in my opinion) than the lighting and posing. it's the Photoshop work that really adds the "wow" factor-- no question.

Michel Schamp
Michel Schamp

The retoucher absolutely deserves (a lot of) credit! I am a photographer and retoucher myself - enabling me to create art solely by myself. Though both being visual art forms, photography and retouching are two completely different fields of expertise. Most photographers (can) only do basic retouching. Creating complex composites is not really their cup of tea. Ideas however - whether being brilliant or not - are the decisive factor here. If it was Annie's mind's eye idea to create this image then I would give most credit to her.

Erwan
Erwan

Just Like a moVIE, A PICTURE IS BORN 3 TIMES. FIRST-OFF IN THE MIND OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER, THAN ON CAMERA, AND FINALLY IN POSTPRODUCTION. THREE STAGES OF BIRTH AND CREATION OF A SINGLE PICTURE.

Girish
Girish

i think they should do. but the way the industry has been and it's reputation is ... equal credit is far fetched, even though re touchers / post production plays a very important role. very. they should importance for their effort the make final product / look and the way they take it 100 times better.

Joe Mathai
Joe Mathai

Definitely should get credit they are also amazing artists who put in alot of work. Same way you credit make up artsits photography assistants the retoucher should be included in that list.

Jurgen
Jurgen

Definitely, for the above images, and in general at least some credit.

dav.d
dav.d

When a photograph is this much of a team effort then credit should definitely be shared. Don't forget hair, makeup, and art directors. This is one reason I like to do my own retouching—I own my vision beginning to end.

Mailinh
Mailinh

Most definitely yes! Since this is a collaboration effort with disney, all should be given credit. I know she's Annie Leibovitz, but how big of a role did she play in this production besides being the photographer? If all were given equal roles, credit to all should be given as well.

Iris hicks
Iris hicks

If Annie was hired for her vision she should get the credit. The retoucher should be acknowledged but as a subtext.

danielle
danielle

similarly, Who should get credited between Man ray and Lee Miller? Man Ray may have been the "creative" director" if you will behind much of the work and assignments but miller made a lot of his prints and took over some of his assignments so he could focus on painting, etc, no?

Glenn Orion
Glenn Orion

I don't think it's even an issue about who gets credit. It's about HOW it's given. I'd venture to say that Annie never goes around parading these images as 100 percent her own. She was the photographer for the project and so-and-so was the retoucher and Disney was the client. I don't think a photographer of her caliber, much less any self-respecting photographer, would try or need to take credit for something that isn't theirs. And look at all of us commenting, we know it's a collaborative effort. Don't you think the studio execs know that, too?

Danielle
Danielle

I would like to see her photograph before it was retouched. that is her work. if she didn't do the re-touching she can hardly call it hers except if it were done under her business name than maybe.. I'm trying to figure out why the re-toucher would've removed the tree from the second photo unless disney told them to. annie's photo looks w/ bare tree in b/g looks like it was awesome!

Carlie
Carlie

Assuming it's AL who has the idea, the composition and final image in mind, I'd say its her work. is it up to the retoucher to ask for credit?

James Chew
James Chew

RE: Scott's comment, the reason why you shoot on location regardless of how much you're clipping out, is because you want to get as much RIGHT in camera first. It may look as if they're only keeping a small percentage of the actual environment. As for who should get credit - definitely both. In film most roles are credited from the DOP (obviously) to all the compositing studios and the artist. at the end of the day though, it is the photographers vision and the compositor/photoshop lackey (at times the lackey *IS* the photographer though) who makes it happen.

Will Foster
Will Foster

Honestly, I've seen this with Anne's previous work in BTS videos where she comes in, and takes the photo, and leaves. Everyone else does the work for her. Nobody knows who is really doing the work. But, honestly, who's work is it anyway? Is it Anne's or is it just her name that gets the work?

JimiFilo
JimiFilo

I caught this link on FStoppers, and you say EXACTLY what I was thinking when I first saw the pirate shot a while back. I mean, on-location shoot for that... really? I'm gonna say something here and it's gonna piss off some people for sure, but a LOT of people could have done that shoot in a studio with a keyed background a couple assistants for a fraction of the shoot fee (let alone, the insurance to cover a set like that). In this situation, the art director and designer should be getting the lion's share of the credit (and budget). Short answer: yes, retouchers should get credit where it's due (if they want it, some don't). I think we should start by defining what is a retoucher and what is a digital artist. The people who worked these images didn't "fix" anything, they created 80% of the artwork. They're artists, not blemish fixers.

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