This week on Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we meet with an incredible Photographer, Retoucher, and Educator from Switzerland: Quentin Décaillet. As a passionate artist, Quentin always combines elements and tells stories, plays with colors, draws scenes, and shares emotions through his pictures.
Photography and retouching are his passion, and education is a natural gift that helps him share his knowledge with everyone. Discover his story and experience in this interview!
A few words about you. Explain us, how did you start photography and retouching?
I bought my first camera when I was 17 years old to photograph my friends when snowboarding as we wanted to try and have shots to show brands and eventually get a sponsor. But, I didn’t know a thing about cameras, and I’d shoot in auto everything.
Then, a couple of years later, a friend of mine brought me to a wedding and a couple of shoots. I was stressed out about the idea of shooting a wedding and decided to learn everything I could before the big day. That’s when I discovered Creative Live, Fstoppers, and other photography websites. Once I had shot my first wedding, I had only one idea and goal in mind: making a living out of photography!
Retouching came along at the same time, and I learned it quickly because I knew Photoshop from my experience designing websites. Drawing also helped me quite a bit for delicate work such a dodging and burning, and it’s definitely one of the most important things of my current beauty work: precision and details.
What do you like best about photography and retouching? And how do you split your time between both activities?
I love the lighting aspect of photography and also enjoy creating new projects. Bringing my ideas to life is something I find extremely rewarding when seeing the final result. Retouching is only part of that process to me. I see it as a way to enhance my captures and indeed make the image match my creative vision. The same goes when retouching for other photographers; it’s all about adding to their work and make it look the best it can be.
I wish the time spent with my camera would be more important than it currently is. However, the business side of photography requires quite a bit of time and retouching is hugely time-consuming as well. So now, I’d say photography accounts for about 20% of my time, while retouching is up to 50-60%, leaving me just enough to take care of my marketing, emails, educational content, and the rest.
For you, what describes a successful picture and why?
A successful picture should be one that makes people feel something. Lighting, retouching, composition, and color don’t have to be perfect; they must work together to convey an emotion or a feeling. The best images are usually the ones that we either love or hate; they are the ones that make people talk.
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or artists? Which ones?
While retouching, I tend to have either a movie or tv show playing in the background. So they are a significant source of inspiration, especially regarding lighting. Other than that, there are photographers whose work I genuinely enjoy – for example Sølve Sundsbø, Yulia Gorbachenko, Von Wong, or Kirsty Mitchell just to name a few –, but I try to stay away from looking too much at others work as I want to avoid copying what others do.
Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms are fantastic to find ideas, but I feel like that by looking at pictures we tend to create images that are not personal, but just a combination of things that are visually appealing. To create unique and personal work, the inspiration has to come from inside.
About your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
I currently shoot with a Nikon D810 and, for most of my work, I rely on a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro. Both are perfect for my current job, but being a gearhead, I’m looking at other options as well, especially as I’m shooting videos as well these days.
Regarding software, I use Capture One for assets management and raw processing, Photoshop for my retouching, and sometimes I’ll add in 3D Lut Creator for more advanced color work.
You are also very active as an educator notably on Youtube, is it a normal evolution for you and an activity you want to develop further? What are the best resources out there for learning real high-end retouching?
Both of my parents being teachers, I believe that I was predestined to make education part of my life and business. It’s definitely something I want to develop, in both French and English, as I believe sharing is crucial to our industry and also because it’s a surprisingly fantastic way to learn as well.
Tutorials and workshops on high-end retouching aren’t numerous. Other retouchers such as Pratik Naik have built their own community to help others and also offer workshops. YouTube has a ton of content as well; it’s just often lacking the part where people can learn how to draw properly, what to retouch, and when to stop retouching. Hopefully, that’s something I’ll be able to bring through my educational content planned for this year and the future.
Do you have projects for the future like travel, a workshop or an exhibition?
I’ve stopped booking weddings for 2018 and 2019 to have more freedom as far as what I can do and where I can go. I want to travel a lot more in 2018 and have the chance to work with people abroad as the model and beauty industry is quite small in Switzerland. I also plan on developing my social media – Instagram & Youtube – to make them more interesting for my followers by including a lot more educational content, in both French and English.
To see more of Quentin's work:
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