Don’t be clever on Photoshop and try every filter in the draw, good retouching should not be noticed…


September 13, 2010 by N@

With such an experienced and respected photographer as part of the International Aperture Awards we know that the standard of judging is going to be high. We are honored to have Ray Lowe on the panel again for 2010.

Ray Lowe has been working in all areas of professional photography for over 44 years with Fellowships awarded in Portraiture, Weddings and Industrial photography.

The only person to be awarded 2 Honorary Fellowships in the UK Ray has also been President of both the UK’s professional associations, BIPP & MPA.

Ray has been a lecturer  and judge around the World for 30 years. He was Chairman of UK qualifications and Chairman of FEP qualifications.

Ray has been the Winner of 9 Kodak European Gold awards along with a string of national UK awards over many years.

How long have you been picking up a camera?

Makes me feel ancient but over 43 years as a professional photographer.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I wanted to be a policeman on horseback, but went into photography to have something to fall back on, if I was a dreadful cop, which never happened, once bitten by the photography bug…

What is your speciality as a photographer?

I trained as an Industrial photographer, then as a wedding photographer, then as a portrait photographer, got my Fellowships in all three and still practise all three…

When your not shooting for clients, what kind of images do you like to shoot?

Landscapes, just me and wide open spaces…

You have been an international judge for many years now, how did you first get into judging?

I was invited by Kodak a long time ago after I received my Fellowships and have been helping others ever since…

Do you think there are extra considerations to be made when entering an International versus Local competition?

You need to realise they will be viewed by a wider cultural selection of people…

It’s been said many times that entering a competition is more than just winning. What do you take out of a competition when you enter?

Go into any competition to learn, not many can actually win, but learning how to do it better will keep moving us up the ladder. Never take a poor score personally, look at it and stand back and try and understand why…If you get over 80 cheer, you are on the up, over 90 have a drink and know you are in the top 5%… Never give up or let anyone’s comments knock you down…

What are the first 3 things you look at in your images when you enter a competition?

Does it have the WOW factor? Wow factor is, does the hair on the back of your neck tingle?

Print quality (or overall quality on the computer screen) poor quality will knock your score every time…

Composition…poor composition can destroy a brilliant creative image if the image does not get the viewer to look at the main subject…

What advice would you offer photographers entering a competition for the first time?

Be different!!!!

As judges we see so much work that is just boring and ordinary…try to create your own style, not copying others or seeing what did well last year and trying to emulate that…

Don’t be clever on Photoshop and try every filter in the draw, good retouching should not be noticed…

Be bold with your cropping, it does not have to be a rectangle, squares and panoramic can have so much more power to an image…

Before you send your images in, ask yourself, are these my best images, produced the best way I can? If yes, send them with pride…

Ray Lowe

You can find out more about Ray at

Entries to The 2010 International Aperture Awards close on 15th October.


5 thoughts on “Don’t be clever on Photoshop and try every filter in the draw, good retouching should not be noticed…

  1. Retouching is a demeaning word for a medium that encompasses photography, collage, painting, drawing,
    and now 3d. There are many photographers who are apologists for any imaging they do. It’s a hangover stemming from the misbelief that ‘ true ‘ photography is straight unmanipulated photography. I would sugegst the opposite. Explore every nook and cranny in Photoshop Don’t be timid, its an amazing medium, use it fearlessly !

  2. I agree’ it’s the art of photography and the way the light is hitting at the time.

  3. Adam Monk says:

    I think the ideal is somewhere in the middle… explore photoshop, know it extensively, experiment freely. but in your public prints and images subtlety is king, its the image that you should see, not the retouching. The retouching should compliment a great image and help it shine.
    The old adage of silk purses and pigs ears is still true, even in the day of digital imaging magic.

  4. “Good retouching should not be noticed” sums Photoshop up for me. Of course back in the day when I was stuck in the darkroom with my black & white prints I would dodge and burn and use different grades of paper to achieve the best out of a negative.

    That’s the purpose of Photoshop for me – not to change a picture out of all recognition from the original.

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