Katherine Gillis – Analog Retouching

Katherine Gillis

Cover Image: © Ansel Adams

Yes, I know I published retouching photo prints and negatives before. But in the interest of analog retouching it has been an impetus to further promote this important artistic endeavor. Go to www.katherinegillis.com and get her FREE Tools & Resources Checklist and watch a replay of Katherine talking about the just released workshop/online course; “Become a Fearless Traditional Retoucher & Spotter.”

Retouching photo prints and negatives was a norm as late as the nineties. There were no serious artists or photographers that did not get their negatives and prints retouched. Not Helmut Newton, not Sebastião Salgado,…not Ansel Adams. But today, one of the few remaining masters of retouching film negatives and prints is Katherine Gillis. And she’s hoping to share her skills in something that is both art and science.


Katherine Gillis
Before and After Spotting


Retouching Photo Prints, Negatives and Ansel Adams

Katherine Gillis studied at Veronica Cass Academy in Florida, the place to go to get the best training at the time. In Santa Fe and Colorado she worked in color labs, perfecting techniques she’d been taught and developed on her own.

While working for a lab in Santa Fe, Alan Ross, master photographer and printer of the Ansel Adams Yosemite Special Edition Prints, contacted her. A former Ansel Adams assistant, he asked if she would attempt the spotting for some limited-edition Ansel Adams prints. She couldn’t contain her excitement – or her anxiety at being given that opportunity at such a young age.


Katherine Gillis
Before and After removing teeth


Many photographers started seeking her out, and for more than 20 years, she ran her own company, ‘Perfected Image’. Alan Ross continued to ship her Ansel Adams prints. She was often working 18- hour days. But it was doing what she loved best.

The Great Digital Takeover

Fewer photographers were using film. The siren call of “digital” was consuming vast portions of the population. And then a few years ago, the surprise resurgence of film had many photographers moving back. And the under 35 crowd was taking up more and more of the marketplace. (according to Ilford sales) Magazines started requesting film photography. (Purple magazine, etc.) But during that digital tsunami, many professional retouchers found themselves out of work.


Retouching photo prints
Before and After


But Katherine Gillis hung in there with Alan Ross and his prints and the photographers who decided not to disappear into digital. But then she needed to supplement her income. As fate would have it, an inattentive driver rear-ended her stopped car at 55 mph. She was so impressed with how the medics handled the scene that she wanted to give back. Hence, she trained as a volunteer ambulance driver and soon trained as an EMT herself.


Retouching photo prints
Katherine Gillis working on Large print and Obama print


A Dead End?

End of a retouching career, with a lost art vanishing altogether? Not likely. While doing both for many years, the resurgence in film photography has not only grown her retouching schedule, but inspired her to give back after 20 years as a Master retoucher. As she continued with custom retouching, she knew it was also her time to teach, and share her skills. Not holding anything back, she shares with professional and beginner photographers everything she knows about retouching and spotting in a new online course. Something that was only possible with onsite workshops a few years ago.


Retouching photo prints
Before and After


Become a Fearless Traditional Retoucher & Spotter

Together, with photographer Carol Butler, she is debuting her new online school with a full retouching course. Her course, “Become a Fearless Traditional Retoucher & Spotter” beta-launched in January 2017 on Carol’s school site “Ofcourseware“. Now that they are through beta testing, she will be adding content in the coming months about dyes, special papers and all the other “tricks of the trade”.


Katherine Gillis
Before and After Eyeglass glare


Providing valuable archival services will become paramount in the growing world of silver halide. Marshall’s appears to be one of the few companies to survive who provide transparent dyes for retouching photo prints and negatives, which was a norm as late as the nineties..There are things in life that still require the human touch. A tattoo, an original oil painting, a chef’s genius. And this is one of those things that needs our human selves,…not our digital assimile. Join Katherine and learn retouching at her school link or retain her services at her website below.


Katherine Gillis Website



This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The Link above has been updated to this invitation for a relaunch due to a technical glitch with the ENROLL BUTTON. Here is your invitation to the official launch of “Become a Fearless Retoucher & Spotter” online course tomorrow (including a special bonus offer):

    You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
    When: May 20, 2017 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
    Topic: Followup and relaunch of “Become a Fearless Traditional Retoucher & Spotter

    Register in advance for this webinar:

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
    Katherine Gillis [email protected]
    Carol Butler [email protected]

  2. The correct link is ONLY for the webinar on May 20 3 pm EST Find it at http://www.katherinegillis.com. Special bonus for purchase this day ONLY

  3. Correction of URL link to 2 p.m. Launch of “Become a Fearless Traditional Retoucher & Spotter” is: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/3da888846990961a7510d14dfea9e911
    It is ONLY good for today’s webinar. The course will be totally covered by Katherine Gillis with content, a real time retouch, before and after photos, Q & A and 9 specific benefits analog photographers will want to take this course. Reach Katherine at [email protected] and please get her FREE Tools & Resources Checklist which you’ll need when you take her course at http://www.katherinegillis.com

  4. Only a Master if you make it in New York City
    Mad Men

  5. Says who? You? Having a studio in NYC, (W. 13th St., Meatpacking district, 4 blocks from Industria), I can tell you that’s BS. There are plenty of great photographers around the world. Many of the “icons” have never even been to NYC. I’m a New Yorker, and sat on APA’s NYC board. However, it was only a Frank Sinatra song,…not a truism….get a grip. 🙄

Leave a Reply

Close Menu