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understanding photo retouching

Understanding the Art of Photo Retouching

As a portrait and headshot photographer, I often get asked about my photo retouching process. To be honest with you, I don’t retouch every single photo I deliver – it depends on my clients’ needs and requirements. Also not everyone wants their portrait perfectly retouched and polished, and I understand and respect that.

Today let’s dive into the world of advanced photo editing (or photo retouching). If you’ve ever wondered how to take your already beautiful portraits to the next level, you’re in the right place! My photography retouching service is designed to bring out the best from the images and create a polished timeless look while keeping the photos looking natural. 

photoshoot preparation, makeup artist applying makeup on client's face. Woman smiling

Photo retouching explained

Are you curious about the process? Here’s how it works:

1. Consultation:

Before I begin any photo retouching work, I’ll start with a consultation to understand my clients’ vision for the final images. Whether they’re looking to remove blemishes, enhance colours, or add creative effects, I want to ensure that we’re aligned with their goals.

2. Image Selection:

Once we’ve established the scope of the project, it’s time to select the photos my clients would like to have retouched. Whether it’s a single photograph or an entire set, we’re here to bring out the best in each image.


Before diving into the retouching process, I’ll carefully analyse each image to identify areas that could benefit from enhancement. This may include adjusting brightness, contrast, and colour balance to lay the foundation for a stunning final result.

As you can see below, my photos go through 3 stages: straight out of the camera images (left), basic editing including brightness and colour adjustment, horizon straightening applied (middle), and more in-depth editing including skin retouching, blemishes and stray hair removal, as well as any other distractions in the frame are cleared.

4 Retouching: 

Here’s where the magic happens! Using advanced Photoshop techniques, I’ll address specific areas of the image to achieve the desired effect. This could involve anything from balancing complexion and removing imperfections to sharpening details and adjusting lighting slightly on a person’s face.

5 Client Review: 

After the retouching process is finished, I’ll provide my clients with the opportunity to review the final images and provide any feedback or requests for further adjustments. I will work closely with them to ensure that the end result exceeds their expectations.

6 Final Delivery: 

Once my clients are thrilled with the retouched images, I’ll deliver the edits in their preferred format, ready to be shared online, printed, or displayed however they choose. 

Final thoughts

When it comes to professional headshots and portraits where the face is the focus of an image, I always recommend it being retouched.

Many people think that photo retouching is something artificial and should be avoided. Though to me as a professional photographer, retouching is just gently enhancing the images to portray how someone would look on a ‘good day’. Temporary blemishes such as dark eye circles, pimple breakouts are certainly natural though they are not a permanent feature on a person’s face; so why should we have them on our professional portraits?

When done right, photo retouching is a powerful tool to elevate anyone’s portrait and make a lasting impression.

If you have any questions about my photo retouching process, feel free to drop them in the comments section below!


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