Board index Photography Artistic Questions Model Photographers - Do You Retouch Your Photos?

Artistic Questions

Model Photographers - Do You Retouch Your Photos?

Discuss style and artistic aspects of photography
Posts: 434

Model Photographers - Do You Retouch Your Photos?

Post Thu May 17, 2007 8:05 pm

I shoot mostly nudes and sometimes things like bikini shoots. I find myself drawn to retouching photographs. It started innocently enough, a small blemish on the side of one model's nose. Then it got to teeth. I had one model with a turned bicuspid. Couldn't let that show on closeups, right?

Then there were the "unfortunate" tattoos. What person gets a tattoo that they cannot explain the meaning of? "What's that mean?" I asked her. "Oh, I don't know. I just liked it..." So there are those tats who might as well have been inked in prison. Nothin' says lovin' like a prison tattoo! So, clone brush at 30% use all layers work in the green channel and no more tattoo.

Piercings. OK, I find some piercings kind of nice. Facial ones just give me the heeby-jeebies. Those below the neckline? Sometimes one leaves things alone but for Art. Oh, let Art hire his own models! So, yeah, I have retouched those.

Tan lines. I knew I was getting a bit excessive when I found myself cloning out tan lines on Vasialisa. Well, in for a penny: those marks bras and elastic make on skin, those you have to get rid of. Right?

Now I bought Portrait Professional. It is downright scary what one can do to the face of a woman or a man with that tool. And it is quick too. But I can make them look like someone else (resculpt their heads, for pity's sake!)

You notice that I do not mention the Healing Brush. Folks that use that are just plain wrong. *grin*

So you folk who capture beauty, do YOU mess with the photos? Just a little? Anyone willing to step up to the confessional?

BTW, I tried the Portrait Professional on pics of some high fashion folk, including Charlize Theron. Not a change worthwhile. Guess the pics were already messed with.

Just me,
Ellsworth Weaver
Ars Neovolatile

Posts: 493

Post Fri May 18, 2007 11:20 am


1. An air of compelling charm, romance, and excitement, especially when delusively alluring.

2. Archaic. A magic spell; enchantment.

It's about the intent of the photographer, if it's to show somebody other then they really are. Remove the tats and strip away, might lose a bit of the soul while you're at it though, it's a judgment call.

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting a tattoo simply because you like how it looks. It's quite an honest answer

Posts: 180

Post Fri May 18, 2007 7:13 pm

weird question "retouch photos" ? to me it's like asking which sock I put on first... retouching is as much a part of modern photo as taking the pic.

Posts: 4

Post Mon May 21, 2007 1:50 am

i think if some one doing retouching without artistic knowledge they will ruin the picture. the reason is simple if u dont know the structure of the nose how it is possible that u air brush it correctly, or u can take it for chick bone, jaw bone, ears, skull while touching Hair. and things like that.

8 years back one of my friend ask me to learn photoshop i asked him to learn sketching first i took classes fom me for 3 months and then started photo shop learning and now he the leading artist in Karachi, Pakistan. may be he is on web also as a 'photosergon'.

so basic is fine art then do some thing.

Posts: 904
Location: Irvine, California

Post Wed May 23, 2007 11:05 pm

I guess to a certain extent all photos are. When shooting a model I will usually as to what extent they want touch ups. Softening the skin, removing a blemish, even changing the color of lipstick if they don't like it afterwards.
I love photoshopography.......

Posts: 85

Post Fri May 25, 2007 10:57 am

i'm not up to a lecture rant this morning, but....

maybe the question should be "how many finished prints/photos do you give a model?" no way i'm retouching or paying somebody to retouch a whole session. traditionally, proofs have never been retouched.

everything gets density, color, contrast. the first cut might get dust spots. but the final cut is only a few images. they get retouched for acne, bruises, reflections, hair, and minor flaws. if i have to rebuild a face or a body, that becomes a whole new story.

when i was a lot younger, and photoshop was even thought of, my professor would grab my brushes and throw them because i would over-retouch.
Forty years of photography.
Fifteen years of training young professional photographers.

Posts: 180

Post Fri May 25, 2007 12:40 pm

I don't believe there is such a thing as over retouching..... but I do believe that there is such a thing as overly obvious retouching...

and to me, that is bad retouching.

Posts: 218

Post Thu May 31, 2007 7:56 pm

Like all art, it is subjective.

Posts: 1

Post Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:10 pm

I always use Photoshop for some little changes (as colour correction)....a minor change can do magic to a photo.

Lately for some commercial jobs and portofolios I just request some proffesional help. It is amazing the amount of sites that provide digital retouch doubt about what all photographers do now.

From my experience, you have two option paying a freelancer or searching for a good online provider, one suggestion:

Posts: 1

Post Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:08 am

Hi people!
I always retouch my photos.
I don't use Photoshop. I found good online provider - They are very good professionals. I like it! And they work anonymously and rapidly.

Posts: 3

photo retouching and colorizing

Post Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:51 am

Hi! it's so much to say about photo retouching. Whatever, I want to know what technique do you use and what computer soft. Be sure that I know a lot a programs too.

Old Photo Retouching and Restoration and Colorizing Black and White Photography

Posts: 288

Post Sat Dec 22, 2007 6:01 pm


I take out moles, pimples, scars, smooth rough skin. Whatever I want. SO does makeup, but retouching with ps is a lot cheaper than hiring a makeup artist.

Posts: 217

Post Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:14 pm

I agree most with sean above: it's about the intent of the photographer. I have made my own personal photoshop limitation to "things I could have done in the darkroom," and sometimes the "could have done" is a bit of stretch. So I tone, dodge, burn, play with contrast, retouch small things (like remove a small distraction in the background), etc., but won't bring part of one photo to another (like add another critter). I have no illusion, though, that this is not just my own personal choice -- lots of fine images are created by people who draw their lines somewhere else, or even have no lines at all.

For models, if you are taking a portrait to capture a person, then I generally do very little retouching. But for an ad in Vanity Fair, the goal is not to capture the person, but create as much glamour as possible -- so I would do a lot more retouching for the final set of fine prints.

But that's as a general rule: we can call it art because we should break the rules if the image needs it.

My rules of photography (of which number 3 is relevant here):
1. Film is cheap, take lots of pictures (even truer now that we are digital).
2. The garbage pail is your friend (anyone who has ever sat through someone's 2000 vacation pictures knows this one).
3. To take good pictures, you need a camera. To take great pictures, you need a darkroom (or photoshop, these days).

Posts: 5


Post Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:04 am

What are you producing?
If it is art, there should be NO limitations (Do abstract painters limit themselves? Should they? Would you really want to be the one to shout to the world that art should conform to YOUR limitations?)
Is it photojournalism/photodocumentation or evidence? If so, don't touch it! It MUST be an accurate representation of truth...what was really there.
Is it advertising? Well... Let's face it. Rules don't mean much to advertisers so why bother. But if you make your living producing advertising shots, you MUST retouch, usually extensively, or you risk loosing your livelyhood to competitors. A lot of people could never be a salesperson or an advertiser but if you can, and are in the business, there are a lot of things that are now widely considered acceptable that you must do to survive in that field of endeavor.
I am neither a salesman nor an advertiser, but I am an artist. I have no limitations. Whatever I need to do to make the final product more appealing, I will do with a clear conscience, nay, with pride, and that includes combining images, combining photography with other art forms, any amount of "retouching" or manipulation, or even creating a scene to be photographed (they have been doing that in Holliwood for decades.)
So...What are you producing?
Cliff Smith


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