Pratik Naik - Solstice Retouch
I first came across Pratik’s work a little over a year ago on Instagram. Personally I felt inspired to see that, as someone of South Asian origin, he has successfully carved a non-conventional career path for himself - there ain’t no ‘starving artist’ here mate!
Pratik is based in the USA, and even with his SUPER busy calendar, he was SUPER kind to take some time out for us so that he could put the A’s to our Q’s! I was eager to find out more about his work and life as one of the most sought after high-end Retouchers in the Fashion Photography industry.
How did you choose the name Solstice Retouch?
I wanted a brand name that represented something bright and impactful. Solstice was the name that stuck with me for quite some time. It was powerful and exuded energy, just from saying it.
When did you realise that Retouching was the career path for you, and if you weren’t a retoucher what would you be doing instead?
I found out it was what I was meant to do when I took a chance and did it as a hobby. I never expected much from it, but after a year or so doing it, word kept spreading and I kept on getting more inquiries from other photographers. Eventually I couldn’t handle the volume and had to quit my job. I’m still here 5 years later moving pixels around the screen.
What were you doing before you started retouching professionally?
I was working in a sales office at an upscale hotel, helping to sell space for weddings, conferences, and meetings. It wasn’t for me, and fortunately, it didn’t have to be for long.
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis in your field of work?
Since you make your own schedule, it’s easy to get side tracked. Being able to stay self-motivated is something that is hard to do at times. Even harder, is staying on top of everything. There are a million things that need to be done all the time!
How do you like to unwind after a long day staring passionately at a screen?!
I often don’t get a chance to unwind. It’s usually, “Okay it’s 3 a.m. somehow, I’ll answer this one last e-mail and then throw myself into bed for a few hours before getting up and seeing my inbox re-populated with revisions or new inquiries.” Usually I’ll lay in bed and watch 5 minutes of random television before falling away to sleep.
What’s your personal motto?
The other person who wants your job is working harder than you.
There’s always someone working hard for a job that we are often dreaming about. Stop dreaming, get up, and go work hard at what you want. Your dream job is not obtained by dreaming, but by doing, as much as possible. This sounds bleak and not very fun at all. To be honest, it isn’t!
Hanging out with successful creatives, I realised you usually need to put so much effort in that it is seemingly scary. But in the end, it will be worth it. Just don’t expect to reach your goals if you want sleep more than you want success. Be prepared to sacrifice a lot to do what you love as a job.
What advice would you give to someone who is a natural creative, but not naturally business-minded?
Assist someone who knows business and marketing. Being talented alone isn’t enough and you need to know how to get the most leverage from what you’re producing! It’s all about who you know, how you market yourself, and how you carry yourself.
In your experience, what are the highs and lows in your field of work?
Highs: I get to set my own hours. I get paid to be creative. I get to travel and see the world sharing my passion. I am so blessed for these things!
Lows: The toll this industry can take on you to get to where you want to be. It’s a lot of work, no joke.
Retouching involves long hours – how do you stay motivated?
This has to come from within. If the fire is externally driven, your fuel will run out. You have to want it for yourself, for whatever reason it is. Usually it’s without any explanation. It’s just this internal fire driving me to do this. I have no other reason for it. It’s something that exists and I listen to it. I swear, I don’t have voices in my head!
When a photo is retouched, the aim is to remove ‘flaws’. The image of the subject is altered from what they actually look like in reality, subsequently suggesting what the word ‘beautiful’ should look like. What are your thoughts on this?
If an image looks retouched, it’s usually too much. I think retouching should reflect what someone looks like in your memory of them. Usually when you see them in person, you don’t focus on certain flaws. Those are the flaws that should be removed. The rest should stay. But the difference in opinion is what makes the image(s) look different to this standpoint. Also, retouching can be overdone because the image represents a fantasy, not associated to reality but still has ties to realism. So these are two ways retouching is approached in my opinion.
What makes you feel good?
Seeing my family happy makes me happy. There is nothing more important. My lovely girlfriend Bella makes me happy; she’s my world and the light of my life. Having her in my life and by my side is everything. Traveling makes me happy, seeing talented and passionate people in other parts of the world is an energising experience.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
I suffer through a lot of negative emotion. The key is trying to deal with it. We present our best faces forward online. I do too, however in our own worlds we’re all going through something. Taking Omega-3, magnesium, vitamin D, and Ginkgo Biloba supplements have been stellar for keeping my mind sharp and happy, along with exercise.
Who or what inspires you?
Other people doing what I’m doing inspires me. Seeing other people work away till the morning hours and really putting their all into it is what I need to see to allow me to keep doing what I’m doing. People who really want this drives me.
Peace & Light,