by Jane Conner-ziser Published
Hi everyone at Professional Imagemaker! It's great to be here and I hope I will be providing some interesting insights into my world of pro retouching. I work with all kinds of photography, from snapshots to fine art images and I'm not a snob when it comes to retouching photos; I'll work on anything if I feel I can make it better and more meaningful. I'm also a photographer and a painter so in time my section will surely meander about, but right now I'm on a mission for sharing retouching technique that goes WAY beyond 'run this action and paint it all over the face'- I want to show you how to do beautiful work.
So let's start with what retouching isn't. It has nothing to do with removing blemishes and wrinkles from people's faces, nor does it mean creating an idealistic representation of a real live person.
The first priority of retouching is to make sure the image is the best it can be. Crop, adjustments for contrast, value, colour and sharpness, removing or toning down distracting background elements, head swaps - whatever it takes to create the perfect image is always addressed prior to working on the main subject, whether the subject is a person, a landscape or a still life. This type of work can be considered corrective retouching and I'm not a purist here - if I can improve the composition by moving a tree over a foot or so, I'll do it, plus I'll make bushes, change skies, whatever it takes.
When the global aspects of the image are as perfect as they can be, the retoucher will move on to the subject. We want that to be perfect, too - but in a natural way that looks believable using 'invisible' technique. The goal is for the viewer to think, 'Wow, that's an amazing shot of this person, or object,' not, 'Wow, look at the retouching that was done to make this look good!' I work on a lot of people and I stick to a simple, common-sense approach based upon the psychology of what people look at when they see pictures of themselves.
What do YOU look at first when you see a photograph that includes a full-length image of yourself? I'll bet it's your body. I'm going to make sure your body looks great without you noticing what I do to you. If you have a bit of fat around your middle, it will still be there (maybe a bit smaller though). I'll likely broaden your shoulders slightly, trim a little bit of from your arms and legs and lift your chest and tummy - without actually changing the way you look. I'll press your clothes, straighten your jewellery and make sure your hair looks awesome but I'll be sure to leave plenty of 'imperfections' - the ones that make you perfectly beautiful just the way you are :-)
The next thing you're likely to look at is your expression. I'm going to make you shine. Your face is super important; it's who you are, and I'm going to be really, really careful. I'm going to shape the lighting so it sculpts each facial feature to perfection. Then, I'm going to add subtle colours to project health and vitality, and I'm going to brighten your eyes and add sparkle to your expression. If you have temporary things on your face, such as blemishes or razor burn, I'll remove them. If your eyes are smiling but your forehead says, 'I am stressed to my last nerve!' I'll give your forehead a good massage. And if you are wearing make-up, I'll make sure it's applied perfectly right down to the eyeliner. You're going to look your best.
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