Launching out of private Beta today is UK startup Repixl, which could be described as photo retouching-as-a-service. Backed by £100k of private funding and almost two years in the making, the two-person company is setting out to make professional photo editing accessible to everyone with a cloud-based service that provides unlimited photo uploads and storage, coupled with a preset menu of outsourced photo editing and retouching options, all with the promise of a 24 hour turnaround.
Those options include common retouching jobs like removing blemishes (or even a person, such as an ex) from a photo, smoothing out a skin tone, “fixing” a subject’s teeth, changing the background, or adjusting focus. There are 66 unique editing options in total.
Each professional job carries an off-the-shelf price, ranging from £0.28 to £8 depending on its complexity so that users know what they’ll be charged as they add edits to their virtual basket.
The process couldn’t really be any simpler, either: First, pick a photo you’ve uploaded and select one of the predefined edits. You’re then shown a generic before and after example to give you an idea of what the outcome will look like. Finally, you’re asked to draw around the area of the photo that you wish to influence, such as which subject you want to remove or what part of the background you want to change, and you’re done. If you want to make further edits, you simply repeat the whole process, otherwise you pay at checkout and wait for up to 24 hours for the completed work to appear in your Repixl account alongside the original.
“Even the most intuitive photo editors are still notoriously difficult to get really good results from,” says co-founder James Bradley. “It’s easy enough to add filters to an image, or overlay seasonal clipart, but when you want to change a background, or alter your hair colour, most people need professional help”.
However, seeking professional help from a photo retouching specialist can be both time-consuming and expensive, says Bradley. Typically, it involves bringing your photos to a high street store or getting a quote from a freelancer who knows their way around Photoshop.
“We created Repixl to offer this professional help to everyone, by creating a system that allowed quick and easy access to bite-sized chunks of a professional’s time,” explains Bradley.
He and co-founder Mark Stringer, who developed the Repixl site, say they have also spent a lot of time making the web app as intuitive and desktop-like as possible in terms of its functionality. Within a single browser window, users can upload multiple batches of photos to multiple albums, browse between albums, view them as soon as they’ve uploaded, and begin editing as soon as the first upload completes.
“No plugins, no flash, no fuss,” says Bradley.
And it’s certainly true that when I took the app for a spin, it felt responsive and came pretty close to the experience of a basic desktop app. In my single photo editing test, the results were pretty good, too, and would have been even better had I taken a bit more care defining the area of the photo that I wanted to edit. Your mileage, of course, may vary.