Bogeys, Snot and Slobber

Contrary to popular belief, retouching (aka photo-shopping, air-brushing or non-invasive cosmetic surgery as many celebs prefer to call it) is not just used to perpetuate an unrealistic notion of beauty.  It is, in fact, one of the professional portrait photographer’s key weapons in the fight against unwanted bits and bobs.

To give this some historical context, retouching portraits has been in existence right back since Victorian times using glass plate prints when curves and other features were accentuated by hand in the editing process.

Okay so high end fashion photographers may have the luxury of wizard like make-up artists and guru stylists, however most portrait photographers would be grateful for a handful of baby wipes and a hair brush!  We often end up having to do some of the work after the client has gone home… crank open the mighty Photoshop!

With our specialist genre of portraiture in particular, babies and children’s portraits, Photoshop is both a gift from the digital gods, boldly cleaning up crusty noses, milky moustaches and drools of slobber everywhere, but also an essential, painstakingly slow and often hugely under appreciated part of our workflow.

Before & After Retouching

“Why are you photographers all so expensive?” The fact is, most of our work is never seen by the client and the rather tedious and unglamorous time spent staring at our screens in post-production makes up the vast bulk of this unseen workload.

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Many photographers choose to fast track the editing process by exploiting automated photoshop plugins, similar to those apps found on your mobile designed to give you that perfect Instagram selfie.

At first glance these time-saving plugins appear to do a half decent job at magically transforming the portraits… however, on closer inspection and especially once printed for large scale wall art, you soon notice that all skin detail has been softened to a rather characterless plastic mush.

Our particular taste for retouching is considerably more subtle. We believe that our clients deserve professionally hand edited portraits that actually physically resemble their child, we celebrate the detail! This lighter and considerably more involved touch does come at a cost though… time, plus at a risk of sounding pompous… skill.

Subtle, restrained and professional retouching not only removes non-permanent blemishes that would otherwise distract from a child’s natural features, but is also a fantastic opportunity for an artistic photographer to add another layer of creativity to their already unique style and approach.

Our rule of thumb means permanent features stay untouched such as moles, birthmarks, scars etc, but bogeys, snot and slobber are not a good look, especially not magnified in your feature piece above the fireplace!

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