Surreal Portraiture

Surreal Portraiture and the Retouching Behind It

Surreal Portraiture and the Retouching Behind It with Kelly Robitaille

Growing up, art was always my thing. I was a bit of an introvert and being artistic was a massive part of my identity.  Art was an escape. It allowed me to tell stories and form alternate realities using just a piece of paper and a pencil. 

As I grew into adulthood, forming a career that involved the arts was never in question. I took a graphic design course which in turn introduced me to Photoshop. 

I have used Photoshop for many artistic forms, but my favorite is retouching, specifically surreal retouching. 

If you know me, you likely do because of my Surreal Portraiture “Whimsy Waifs” series. 

I started out in Photography as most of us do. I had an eye for composition and loved anything artistic. I bought a nice camera and learned all I could. For a while, photos of children and families were enough, but soon I became uninspired by what I was creating. 

I reached out to a friend for a conceptual session, but when I got home and began to work on the imagery, I decided to step out of the proverbial box of what was acceptable within the photography community and just simply create something for me. 

I used my knowledge of Photoshop to manipulate and create artistic imagery based on the fantastical stories in my mind. 

I have been creating these Whimsy Waifs ever since. I have unapologetically shared them for years. I tell my stories through them. They are what I see in the mirror, in some form. They are my therapy, my way of working through past trauma and honestly, my happy place. One of the best things I have ever done for my mental health has been to create art for ME instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing or what I feel like I SHOULD be doing. 

As photographers, we constantly feel like we need to keep up with the Joneses. We are continuously comparing ourselves to photographers we admire in the hopes of having a little taste of the success they have, but I have realized throughout my journey that the absolute best thing we can do as creatives, storytellers and photographers is to step outside of that box of expectation and create our own reality. We need to create something that resonates within our souls, to create art that gives us a profound sense of pride and satisfaction. I create stories for me, and whoever chooses to come along on the ride can hop on board. 

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the February 2021 magazine.