What the heck is Retouching?
For those of you who have never heard of the term “retouching” or don’t know what does that mysterious procedure do, here is an entry for you 🙂
The two before and after photographs you see here are retouched samples by me of a perfectly handsome person shot by a perfectly capable photographer (I don’t know who the photographer is, but judging by the state of the original image, I’d say he/she is pretty decent).
Depending on your monitor, you may or may not see a tremendous difference, but let me just point out what was done so you are not scratching your head, wondering where to look.
Pay close attention to this person’s skin tone, the redness on his face/nose/ears, discoloration under his eyes, blotchiness of his beard/eyebrow and the sharpness of eyes and hair…
It’s different but very subtle. So you ask:”Why the heck do something that you can barely see?”
Besides the obvious reasons, there are different types of retouching and different degrees of retouching. It can be as subtle as taking out a small pimple on your forehead to completely reshaping your body type and change your hair color. It all depends on what it’s intended for.
For the following sample, this photo is a head-shot for an a potential future star. So I was asked to give it a natural, clean and healthy look but most importantly real. Now there are some other projects where I was asked to completely remove the background, make the person’s hair fiery red, turn the lips blue and make the skin pore-less perfect.
So how do you tell if a job is well done. Like plastic surgery, a good retouching looks natural. It shouldn’t look like something was done to it. That doesn’t mean retouching is “cheating” or “fake”.
Two good samples:
1. We all have our good skin/hair days and our bad skin/hair days. What retouching does, is to make sure even on your bad/average days you still look your best.
2. A more extreme case. On my wedding day, I threw my bouquet for my single ladies to catch. Since I have never done it before, I messed up and nobody caught it. In the moment of embarrassment I embraced my arms tightly to my body and covered my face with my hands. Unfortunately because of the “squeeze” and the photographer’s position, my beautiful long arm (ya right I wish) turned into elephant legs, stubby and ugly. Fortunately there is RETOUCHING! The photographer was able to return my arm to how it should look and that very special moment was perfectly preserved.
All good photographs needs retouching. Retouching in the digital world is equivalent to the dark room in the film days. As dear Ansel says:” 50% of the Creative Process Occurred in the Dark Room”
Can you tell what is the difference in this photo below 🙂