Retouching- how much is too much?

I photograph a lot of headshots and portraits, and I’m often asked if I can fix things in post. While Photoshop is a powerful tool, I think it’s important for a photo to look like that person on their best day, not like someone else. National magazines like Glamour are taking a stand on this, and minimizing their use of retouching based on feedback from their readers.  Here is my approach to retouching.


  • My goal is to make people look like they do on their best day. I think the final product should be you, but at your best, not someone else.I’ll always fix things that could have been fixed on a shoot, or by a makeup artist or hair stylist, like hairs out of place, lipstick on teeth, clothing problems, etc.  I might even give hair a little fix by smoothing out a bump or fluffing up a flat area.I will soften things we don’t like too much, but that are a part of you.  I will often slightly brighten teeth, and soften lines, but I tend to not make teeth paper white, or remove all lines, as this makes the photo believable.

    I don’t remove things that are a part of you. For example, I’ll remove pimples, but will leave freckles, because one is temporary, and the other is who that person is.

    I think a headshot or portrait should be believable and authentic, as this gives the subject or business more credibility.