"Portrait Retouching - Where Do You Draw the Line?" - Podcast 143


How far is too far when it comes to portrait retouching? Do you smooth the skin, brighten teeth, and add sparkle to the eyes? Is it OK to reduce the size of the nose, make the eyes bigger, and take off a few pounds here and there?

Here's a photo of an attractive woman. She looked pretty in the original shot. And because I liked her bone structure, I used her portrait as a retouching example in my upcoming book, The Photoshop Companion. How does this shot look to you? Is it natural, or can you tell that I've done some touch up work in Photoshop?

This is what I grapple with in this week's podcast. I thought by bringing up the topic, you too would figure out where the line is for you when it comes to retouching.

Portrait and Photoshop retouching by Derrick Story.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Quiet is this month's photo assignment. As summer begins to wind down, it's time to change gears a bit and enjoy a few quiet moments. You have lots of latitude for your interpretation of this assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Portrait Retouching-Where Do You Draw the Line?" You can download the podcast here (22 minutes). You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

The Digital Story podcasts are available for direct download from Apple iPhones. I've created a special mobile download page here. Just load the page in Safari, browse the podcast line-up, and click on the one you want to listen to.

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our new Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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Thanks for your show about "Drawing the Line".

I like your approach. I have, however, have made one exception in my time as a pro wedding photographer.

Once I was talking photos for a client and her bridesmaid had a cold sore show up just prior to the wedding. In the portraits of her I took the liberty of removing it without asking her (i knew that the bridesmaid was very embarrassed about it). I did so out of kindness and the knowledge that the cold sore was an exception to her features.

Your comment reminded me of my friend who took her kids for a portrait session. She got the proofs back with her son's facial birthmark removed. She cried for days - for her, this was part of her son. A part that he had to grow up with for many years until he was old enough to have it removed (he was 2, removal would be 6-7 years old).
Insensitive move on the part of the photographer.
The photographer reissued the proofs with the birthmark in place - but the hurt and damage had already been done.