We are all born equal and perfect in our own unique ways, there is no doubt about that. If that’s the case, then why do our headshots and portraits need to be retouched? Well, there are two primary reasons for this, the first is to correct any slight imperfections and the other is for creative aesthetics. I’d like to focus on the first reason, which comes from circumstances out of our control such as blemishes, fly away hairs and in some cases your clothes (wrinkles or lint). Sure there are steps and tips you can take to help with your skin, I actually talk about here, and even hiring a professional make-up artist can do a world of justice but sometimes human nature simply has other plans for us. This is where my retouching comes in. My process is what is considered the natural method, where I am only removing these imperfections. It’s not the high end retouching you would see in beauty and fashion magazine. By doing so, I’m able to retain the organic appearance of your skin and features, a key point in a true headshot. Then to just to give it that extra pop, I will go in and subtly enhance the highlights and shadows in key areas of the image, we call this dodging and burning. By applying this technique I can add a bit of depth to the image, which in return creates visually pleasing effect to the human eye. 
     Now, to touch (see what I did there?) on the second reason, creative aesthetics, I will start by saying this is more for actors and models. Venturing into subjective territory, should I go this route, I will tend to apply a color grade to compliment the mood, or I might take the dodging and burning up a notch or two, it really depends on story we are trying to tell. As an actor or model, this where we can really have our fun as we explore capturing character or theatrical headshots. This is all determined while we are in the studio after we’ve captured what is needed for your commercial headshots. 

     It takes a headshot specialist to know and understand how to properly retouch these types of images, and through my experience and perfected lighting I’ve mastered this technique. Think about it like this, on a scale of 1 to 10, once the light is dialed into you, we will see 10s all through the session coming straight of the camera. Then once we’ve selected the best of the best from those 10s, I will then taken the to the next level, an 11 and create the most visual impact for viewer, which is what we want when people see your headshot. In the real world, there are only few seconds before someone thumbs the scroll or flips to the next 8 x 10, we want to stop that, grab their attention and get you hired. Below are a few examples of natural retouching where you can see how I’ve applied the techniques, then there is one example of a creative retouch. My goal is that after reading this blog, people will understand the philosophy behind why images are retouched. Leave your thoughts below and thank you for taking the time to read this! Cheers amigos!

Examples of Retouched Commercial and Theatrical Headshots

  • Skin imperfections such os blemishes or dry patches.
  • Fly away hairs.
  • Dodging and Burning.
  • Wrinkles and attire adjustments.

Actors Headshots – Hair and Make-up by Pam Butler of The Beauty Patrol

Hair and Make-up by Pam Butler of The Beauty Patrol

Talent Headshot

Personal Branding Headshot

Examples of Retouched Headshots with Creative Aesthetics

  • All of the above key points.
  • Color Grading.
  • More Dodging and Burning.

Modeling Headshot