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The 6 Minute ‘Dirty Edit Challenge’ by Jeff Rojas

By Hanssie on July 21st 2014

In the fashion, beauty, commercial photography world, spending 8 hours editing one single image is commonplace. I’ve heard some take upwards of 12-30 hours an image. For a wedding photographer who handles thousands of images and is expected to deliver 600-800 per wedding, thinking about spending that much time on one image is enough to give me hives!


Jeff Rojas is a portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City and in the following video, he challenges himself to see how much retouching he could do (reasonably) in 6 minutes. He called it the “dirty edit challenge” because the photo is edited to be “good enough” for the average client. In 6 minutes, without using plugins, Jeff cleaned up hair and blemishes and  enhanced the facial features and makeup. He also challenges you to try the 6 minute dirty edit challenge.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 10.11.47 PMScreen Shot 2014-07-20 at 9.20.31 PM

Don’t look at me. It takes me about 2 minutes to edit a photo – throw an action on it and move on to the rest of the million images that needed to be done yesterday– the wedding photographer’s very, very dirty edit…which is why I sit back in awe of the the perfection and diligence that comes from my commercial photography friends.

Jeff Rojas has a few other editing/retouching videos on his Vimeo, including a very interesting 25 minute beauty edit. You can see more of his work on his website as well.

To learn more about retouching from an amazing retoucher, check out CREATIVE RETOUCHING ESSENTIALS IN A DAY EBOOK BY JULIA KUZMENKO MCKIM available in the SLR Lounge store.

[Via ISO1200 and Jeff Rojas on Vimeo/Images via screencaps]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Sean John Zanderecza

    just wow.. but without any disrespect to jeff’s work, i’ll stick to my LR5 copy & paste feature -_-

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  3. Jim Johnson

    I must be grumpy today. This kind of irritates me. To most of us, getting the job done in an efficient way is just called getting the job done. I’m including the high end multi-hour projects in that description as well. In fact, I wouldn’t call this a dirty edit so much as a truncated one; the complete retouching for some projects and the first step for others. This is the speed most retouchers I know work at already, only for the high end stuff, they don’t stop there and it slows down as they get more in depth.

    There is part of me that thinks the photographer is spoiled if they consider that kind of retouching in that amount of time a “challenge”. To me, this video should be titled, “Dirty Edit Challenge: Can I judge how much retouching is appropriate for the job?”

    But, as I said, I might be a little grumpy.

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    • Hanssie

      Well, it is a Monday, so you’re allowed a pass for the grumpiness :)

      But seriously, I get where you’re coming from too. A retoucher’s job is not only difficult in its tediousness, but the fact that everyone scrutinizes your work. Again, reasons why I am not a professional retoucher, nor a fashion photographer!

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    • Jim Johnson

      Let me dial back the grumpiness a little and explain a little more.

      I do retouching, but would not consider myself a professional retoucher. However, I work next to a couple of retouchers, and I would say what you saw in this video is usually just getting to a point where we would consider the “real” work begins, so we tend to take no more than a few minutes on it…. just like in the video. I am putting that out there for anyone who might be interested in what goes into professional retouching.

      However, let me apologize for my judgmental attitude. It is not my place to judge other professionals’ workflow. The only thing that matters is if the final image works.

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    • Stan Rogers

      That all depends, really, on what your product — your deliverable — is. Sometimes it *is* that 40 by 60 inch backlit display that people are going to be standing two feet away from at the [insert high-end cosmetic brand name] counter or the 200-line hexachrome full-page or double-page tip-in ad on clay-coated cover stock with a varnish hit. And that four-hour shoot is all about getting perhaps a half-dozen stunning images that can mean millions to the client and tens of thousands to the project (AD, photography, stylists and talent). For most of us, most of the time, life isn’t like that. Where you are on that scale (and you may be at several different points on the scale, depending on the job at hand) changes what “good enough” means. The problem is figuring out where you are at any given moment — I probably know as many people who do the whole “Chanel presents” thing on every grip-and-grin or social media profile shot they shoot and wonder why they’re not making any money (what with working so hard and all) as I do people who take a warts-and-all approach (hey, they’re *your* warts, not mine!!!) while trying to charge upscale rates and wondering why they aren’t getting any word of mouth or repeat business. Somewhere in the middle there’s a sweet spot.

      Balance seems to be difficult for people — maybe the whole bipedalism thing was a bad idea.

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  4. Nick Viton

    I’m with you on the 2 minute edit, Hanssie! I wish I had time in my life to allow for hours editing a single image. However, I have a lots of other, more important things that time in my life can be spent on.

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    • Hanssie

      Hours of editing one image seems torturous to me…which is why early on in my career, I choose wedding photography and not fashion (which I LOVE to shoot…)

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