How To Retouch Portrait Photos

If you enjoy the art of portrait photography, whether it is for your career or for fun, it is important to know how to retouch photos.  No matter who your subject is: a client, a friend, etc. everyone wants to look their best.  Now, this doesn’t always mean altering a person’s photos so they look like they have perfectly smooth skin, extremely white teeth, and look 40 pounds lighter.  The goal of retouching is to enhance the photos and make the subjects look polished.  How is this accomplished? There is a lot of different editing software out there, so find a software that you are comfortable with.  Make sure that you really explore all the features of the software to ensure that you can get the work done as fast and efficiently as possible.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure your subject looks like himself or herself.  There are some cosmetic retouching tricks that you can do while still making sure the subject looks authentic.  The first step would be to make sure to get rid of any hair flyaways.  These hairs can be distracting from the photo and can possibly make the subject look unkempt. The next step to take is to brighten the teeth. The goal of whitening the teeth is to make them look as natural as possible; you might not even need to whiten all of the teeth showing.  A lot of the time, you only need to end up whitening a few teeth to make sure they are consistent. Lastly, if the subject has any large blemishes or discoloration in their skin, you might want to even out their skin tone.  Fixing skin blemishes is very subjective, so a good rule of thumb is that less is more.  You can always go back and fix the subject’s skin more if desired. 

The next step in retouching a portrait photo would be to fix the lighting.  Sometimes, you will find that the photos are too overexposed, too warm, too cool, too bright, etc.  This can all be fixed with editing software.  You want to make sure that you have a good balance of all aspects.  Again, you want to make the portraits to look as natural as possible.  You can play with the saturation, exposure, contrast, and warm and cool levels.

These steps are very subjective.  Every photographer has a different style and it is important to show that through the photos.  Stay true to yourself when you are retouching photos, and true to the subjects.

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