Stefka Pavlova is a professional Beauty and Fashion Retoucher. She was born in Plovidiv Bulgaria and was raised by her mother. She graduated from the National Academy of Art with a Master degree in Mural Painting. After graduating she started working in "Extreme Makeover" a magazine dedicated to plastic surgery.
While enjoying her job as a Photo Editor, Stefka and a friend decided to open their own studio in graphic and web design. While working as a Designer two years later her passion for photography and manipulating images prevailed. Now, five years later she is doing work with some amazing and professional Photographers in the industry. She resides in Germany with her son and continues to express her passion in the beautiful images she retouches.
Hello Stefka and thank you for being with us at SHOT magazine! What inspired your career to become a Retoucher?
I work as professional retouching artist specializing in beauty and fashion post-production. I have master degree of Fine Arts from National Art Academy in Sofia Bulgaria. During my studies at the Academy Photoshop became my passion. I quickly realized that I can transfer my love of painting in this new and still unknown field of art. Retouching gradually began to attract me more and more and easily turned into addiction.
Did you have any formal training in photography, traditional or digital painting?
Once I had an old Zenit camera, I loved to take pictures but I have to admit that I never had genuine interest to photography itself. I am more interested in to see in details what the camera captures.
Let me tell you a story… Now when I went back to the art academy I remember I was something like rebel. Everyone was going for digital art classes, doing computer generated illustrations and graphics. I was totally against this and fully adhere to the old school methods and techniques of drawing with oil paint and charcoal. It was very alien thought how you can express yourself using mouse monitor and keyboard. Until I started my first job It was a major milestone for me.
When you were starting out what were your main sources of clients?
In the beginning everything happened so fast. I was still learning when my first client appear. I started doing things which I never did before. After that second client come more followed. My first meeting with digital art was when I started work in a comic magazine. My job was to put the comic stripes in color. I was working with amazing and very talented artists. Inspired by them I bought my first graphic tablet and started to paint myself. I quickly replaced the standard pencil with a digital pen. Back then I knew that this is my future
What types of retouching do you do for clients mainly? And are they mainly private or commercial?
I do all types of retouching: catalogs, products, advertising, beauty, fashion, hair etc. Huge part of my work is for private clients.
What type of retouching is your favorite?
I love to work on Beauty close up images. There is something very special going through all the skin, amazing make up and the beautiful unique model features. Finding that one thing that makes the image special is…magical.
At this point in your career do you get to retouch exactly what you love working on?
Yes! I consider myself as lucky person. I've never searched for a job or clients. The jobs always find me and most of the time is exactly what I love.
Who do you dream of working with in the near future? Photographer, Model, Designer, etc.
I'd like to work with my idols- the best photographers and art directors walking on this planet. I believe I'll become good enough to work with them one day.
What are your three personal qualities that encouraged you to become successful in your craft as a Retoucher?
The ability to see in the near future, before I start working on an image I already have something in mind, I can see the potential of it. I think this is ability which every artist should have…the ability to see the things in the future. Once the concept is clear from there on the task is easy. Skills-We all (Photographers, Make-up A artists, and Retoucher's) create beautiful even impossible things which fill the eyes and tickle our imagination. The main task to me as Retoucher is to distract the viewer from thinking whether, if, where and how this picture has been improved and just leave them to enjoy the beauty. Our job is to keep maximum detail and features which are set in the original shot. Nothing in this world is perfect and I like to remind this to myself.