The Importance of Being a Digital Retouch Artist (DRA) By Lisa Manchester

I was a budding photographer in 2008 when I heard about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. At that time, I had not given much thought to volunteering because I was still developing my photography and retouching skills It wasn’t until years later when I knew I was ready, that I jumped in with both feet. I initially began volunteering as a photographer in November of 2014. 2 years later, I was accepted as a volunteer Digital Retouch Artist. I am from an area that does not have a high volume of hospital calls requesting services, so stepping forward as a Digital Retouch Artist seemed to be an obvious next step for me. Now I am also a retouching instructor / mentor for my fellow volunteers.

There are so many opportunities and benefits of being a volunteer. I have volunteered for a few different organizations throughout the years and have given my time to several good causes. I’ve always had a heart to serve others through various outlets. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished as knowing I have made a difference in someone’s day, month, year, or life. No amount of money could replace all the positive things I have experienced from freely giving my time, but nothing compares to the gratification I feel as a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

I absolutely cherish both of my volunteer roles and view them both as being extremely important to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’s mission, but my role as a Digital Retouch Artist (DRA) has given me the opportunity to serve more people. I accept retouching requests from families who have taken their own photos, from nurses, health care professionals, and our medical affiliates who have taken pictures for families, and from other volunteer photographers who request DRA assistance for the pictures they themselves took, but could not retouch due to time constraints, lack of skill, or whatever the reasons may be.

What I do as a DRA helps draw the viewer’s eyes to nothing but the baby’s beautiful facial features, eyelashes, fingers, and toes. All other distractions that might reveal that this baby is no longer with us can be removed or softened when these photos are properly retouched. A beautiful portrait a family can proudly display with the rest of their family portraits proves their sweet little one was here and was no less loved and cherished.

Being a DRA can sometimes be thankless, but we do occasionally receive a note of gratitude from someone. My work as a DRA fully encompasses all that I love about volunteering. I’m not looking for attention, recognition, reward, or to be repaid in any way. I’m making a difference in the lives of many. That is why I do this.

To remember each sweet baby I’ve had the honor of photographing over the years, I place a tiny little butterfly cut-out on the wall of my office. There are now 21 little white butterflies scattered on my wall. I also plan to add tiny little flowers to represent each baby whose photos I have retouched, but quite frankly, I have lost count. Hopefully, someday I’ll count them and add the flowers to my wall, too.

Click below for more information on volunteering as a Digital Retouch Artist

Remembrance Portraits
Medical Affiliate Program