Viktor Fejes: Professional retouch artist

Life as a retoucher requires long hours, hard-earned trust and a certain degree of invisibility.

Viktor Fejes took the first steps towards a career as a retoucher at the age of eight years old, but it wasn’t until years later that he realized that’s where life would take him.

Now a professional retoucher and founder of GILD Studios, a boutique retouching studio, Viktor first used Photoshop for experimentation and drawing, but was often frustrated by his lack of understanding.

Portrait by Karl Taylor
Viktor Fejes is a self-taught retoucher and founder of GILD Studios.

Undeterred, he taught himself what he could through the limited resources available to him.

“When I first started retouching, there was not much material, retouching wasn’t being taught then.”

He learnt what he could by watching basic time-lapses of other retoucher’s work, but was still left asking questions.

“We knew the same, we were using the same processes, but I didn’t know why the end results were different.”

It was through watching, learning and experimenting that he built a solid foundation of skills and in 2012, the same year he received his BA in English Linguistics, Viktor acquired his first client as a retoucher.

To learn about common Photoshop mistakes and how to avoid them, read our blog post.

    Portrait by Karl Taylor
    Viktor Fejes has worked with major photographers, international brands and Hollywood celebrities.
    Six years later, Viktor has worked with major photographers, international brands and Hollywood celebrities, but he admitted it isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds.

    “I usually wake up late because I worked through the night to meet deadlines in different time zones. I then answer e-mails, do my admin, call or meet with clients before I start any retouching. I would then usually start my work, but now I find myself managing and reviewing projects rather than working on them.”

    Patience, he said, was a valuable skill for any retoucher as the job involves a lot of sitting and mundane, repetitive tasks.

    “One of the worst parts of being a retoucher is the hours. Working with clients around the world in different time zones means I’m often up late,” said the Hungarian-based retoucher.

    Click here to read Viktor’s top tips on how to work efficiently in Photoshop.

      Professional retoucher Viktor Fejes
      Working as a professional retoucher with clients around the world often results in long hours and late nights.

      Working on big projects often means strict schedules and tight deadlines for “great ideas but incredibly challenging” work. However, the positives outweighed the negatives, he said. He’s worked with interesting people and clients from around the globe, from Shanghai to Los Angeles, and earning peoples trust was a valued part of his relationships with them.

      “It’s an immense feeling, knowing there are things everyone wants to hide, but they trust me enough to expose themselves.”

      But, Viktor explained, the key to good retouching is that it’s invisible to all those not in the know. A professional retouch should not be obvious, and that’s one of the main changes Viktor has seen since he first started retouching.

      “As a good retoucher, you want to be invisible,” he said.

        Portrait by Karl Taylor
        Effective retouching should be invisible to the viewer.

        He explained the process and approach to retouching has undoubtedly changed in the last few years, shifting away from the initial trend of experimentation, which took retouching to the very limits.

        “Retouching has become a lot more mild, it’s far more human now.”

        This more natural approach allows the focus to once again fall on the subject itself, the image that was created in the photographic stage, rather than effects created in the post production stage. “Like photography, retouching isn’t about the technology — it’s a thought process. It’s an extension of photography and, as a retoucher, you extend the story to enhance the focus on the most important parts.”

        If you’d like to find out more about Viktor and his work, make sure to watch his live talk show on Visual Education.

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