Jennifer Hooper, an actress from Erie, PA, answered a craigslist ad I put out about a mutually beneficial portfolio shoot. She got some nice professional shots. I got a healthier looking portfolio and proof that I am a bad mamma jamma when it comes to the retouch. Now, I don't mean to imply that she was in desperate need of retouching. Jenn's gorgeous regardless. But if you don't know by now that everybody needs a little digital help these days, especially if they're modeling, then I'm amazed you were able to find the power button on your computer, let alone make it to my website. Hey there, you. Don't forget to take your pills and be careful on those stairs.
No, the bad mamma jamma part comes in with the subtlety of the retouching. That picture above? I didn't just remove a couple blemishes and wrinkles.
Take the big picture first....
Left side, original. Right side, retouch.
You can immediately see that I warmed up the color, cleared blemishes and removed the circles from under her eyes. How about that extra strand of hair hanging down in the lower left?
How about her eyes?
The reason Jenn wore that shirt was because she felt it brought out her eyes. Overcast natural light is great lighting for everything but bringing the color out of someone's eyes. So after I removed a few of the red veins in her eyes, I brightened them a bit and added the faintest hint of a catch light.
Finally, the part that I believe sets me apart from the average person who thinks they can retouch a photo: the skin...
Softened, but with texture retained.
A lot of "retouchers" will use a technique that removes most if not all texture and I'll admit, I was guilty in the past of doing this...
Left: Good. Right: Bad.
My aunt and uncle have these massive framed 16x20's of their 4 kids' senior pictures on their wall. They're all "airbrushed" like the shot on the right here. I suppose if you factor for technology and techniques 10 years ago, they're pretty good. They don't look like themselves though. They look like plastic dolls and that brings me back to my whole point about making the photos as "you" as possible. I realize this was a modeling shoot and, per se, it doesn't really matter how I photoshop Jen as long as she doesn't look SO fake that people call me out on it. (As a matter of fact, I'll make it a point to write a post on that.) But skin has texture. People have pores. If you want to look real, if you want to look like you or even human, you don't want your skin smeared into airbrush hell.
Don't let your next photographer turn you into a china doll... unless, you know, you're doing an art piece or an ad and that's the point. You know what, your next photographer should be me anyway so I don't know why we're arguing about this.
No, you started it.