Retouching portraits isn’t at all uncommon, and most photographers include it in their services. But if we talk about portraits of children, this becomes a rather sensitive topic. Journalist Sam Walker recently expressed her outrage with a school photographer who offered “basic and premium retouching” for annual school photos of eight-year-olds. The packages included blemish removal, teeth whitening, and evening skin tones.
I think that choosing to get married is one of the most important decisions in your life. And choosing the right photographer to document this day is certainly a big decision, too. Sadly, there are many unprofessional photographers out there who can ruin your big day. This happened to a New Zealand couple, who got unpleasantly surprised after seeing their wedding photos. The bride was photoshopped to look skinnier, and when they asked for the original files – the photographer claimed that he deleted them.
Recently, while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stumbled upon this sentence about people’s appearance: “If they can’t fix it in 10 seconds, don’t point it out.” It’s a very clever thought, and I immediately connected it with the retouching process and the rules for retouching people.
Based on this quote, I came up with a reminder of what you should change in Photoshop, and what should remain as-is when retouching photos of people. To keep things clear, I refer mostly to portraits and headshots, as well as wedding or event photos. There are other rules for retouching beauty and fashion images (although I still think you shouldn’t overdo it, but that’s just my two cents). So, let’s get started.
Do you use Photoshop for your portrait photos? Silly me, of course you do. We all do, and that’s fine. But do you draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable amount of retouching? Do you merely emphasize people’s natural beauty, or are you the one who makes them look beautiful? Scott Kelby – photographer, retouchist, the editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, gives a fantastic and inspiring talk on this topic. Why do we retouch people in Photoshop? And do we know what our job as retouchists is?