What does it mean to be a photo retouching team manager while being hands-on at the same time?

Dragan Babic
Dragan Babic
Published: 09.04.2021

Ivana Gelic manages a handful of teammates who form a tight-knit photo retouching/editing operation within Superawesome. Let’s dive into the details and challenges of juggling individual contributions with management.


Picture, anyone?

What are your primary responsibilities and what does your day-to-day look like?

My primary responsibilities include the organisation of team workflow, checking the quality of processed files, communicating with clients and obtaining the necessary information for work, monitoring the internal organisation of team members, organising the team database, holding workshops to improve team members' skills, retouching, and photo editing files for one of the projects and assisting other team members in their projects when necessary.

A normal day has some established structure and workflow, but my routine can be disrupted by the arrival of a wave of large amounts of tasks. Then it’s necessary to plan from day to day.

Each day begins with a review of priority checklist emails, updates from each team member, and the assignment of new tasks. For much of the day, I dedicate myself to my tasks and reviewing the tasks of other team members. The last 3 hours of the working day consist mostly of correcting the things that I overlooked on our tasks, communicating with, and helping other team members with corrections, or interpreting insufficiently clear reviews. If I have free time during the day, I mostly use it to fill in the internal database or organise materials.

In your opinion, what are the hallmark traits of a great photo retoucher/editor?

1. Experience

Photo retouching is dynamic. Technology is ever-changing and requires someone who truly understands the job. Although many years of experience on the job handling various assignments might really not translate to quality work, there must be proof that indeed the individual knows what he or she is doing. Ideally, the experience should be connected to the task being done. An experienced beauty or fashion photo retoucher might not be as good when handling product photography.

2. Expert Knowledge of the Main Photo Editing Software

There is no way that anyone can deliver any job without the required tools. There are many applications today that can be used depending on the level of expertise of the user, but expert knowledge of Adobe Photoshop CS is a must. One must clearly understand how to artistically use levels, curves, actions, colour, masking, and myriad other adjustments and tools. Knowledge of other applications such as Illustrator and InDesign is a big plus because each photo-editing tool has special capabilities.

3. Very Detail Oriented

The devil is in the details. One must have an eye for minor details because a simple mistake could easily mess up an otherwise awesome photo. Any photo enhancing expert must be able to understand why the photo was captured the way it was. How are the color and lighting related to the overall picture? Is the background adding value or does it requires some improvements? Are there any specific client requirements that must be captured to make the photo better? The moment simpler details are missed, the overall quality of the photo can be compromised.

3. Excellent Communication Skills and Patient

The retoucher’s ideas might not be the best for the client. However, with patience and open communication, the expert can deliver perfectly edited photos irrespective of the complexity. However, one should also have the courage to guide the client on the best approach because you are the expert. There are many know-it-all clients whose ideas may not make any design sense. Through open communication, the ideas of the retoucher may prevail.

How do you spend your time outside of the office?

That little time is precious and necessary for the regeneration of the mind and body. I use my free time outside of work to dedicate myself to personal projects such as illustration and painting. Because I spend a lot of time communicating with a large number of people at work, I need to be alone for all other activities, whether it's running, cycling, painting or looking at the wall :)

How do you describe your work personality vs. your home life personality?

I don't think there's much difference between the two personalities. But if I had to name one bigger difference... It would certainly be patience. At work, I try to have a lot of patience and understanding, but then there is very little left for the rest of the day :)

What were you like at age 10?

Much louder and more curious than now. I pretended to know 5 languages and spoke fictional words that even I didn't understand. I dreamed of having drums, practiced karate for some reason, and wanted to see the sea.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Superawesome, whose job would you want?

Honestly, no one as I think everyone is better at their jobs than I would be. But if I were to choose based on things I like in other positions, I would say Marija or Tomislava. Marija because of the organisation of projects, and Tomislava because of the creative part of her work.


Get to know Ivana Gelic at Superawesome

Ivana is a powerhouse of organisation and productivity. Her work in keeping the retouching team running smoothly, along with the constant improvements she adds to their processes is irreplaceable to Superawesome as an organisation. If you happen to have any questions for her, or if you think her expertise and unique experience would be a good fit for your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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