gulf shores portrait photography retouching guide

Retouching: What to Look For

Gulf Shores Photography, Lifestyle, Orange Beach Photography, Photographer Shopping, Photos Comments Off on Retouching: What to Look For

When we remember a person’s face, we forget the imperfections. The image we see when looking closely in the mirror or at a 36 megapixel picture is not what the rest of the world perceives. High quality cameras can augment imperfections. The goal of a retouch is to get as close to the mind’s perception as possible while retaining all the personality of a person’s unique features. We imagine our subject under the most flattering light, on their best day, and with the perfect pose and retouch to that standard.

However, every photographer’s eye is a little bit different and the results of a retouch can vary dramatically. Even the same photographer may come up with a completely different retouch a few months or years later. We tend to see two extremes here on the Gulf Coast when it comes to retouching; either too extreme or none at all. Here’s what we mean:

[Keeping the discretion of our clients in mind, we’ll be using our own family shots for this post]

Proper Retouch

The below picture shows a before and after of a proper retouch. Jackson’s skin retains its texture, colors are calmed down but not completely blurred together and the overall image is sharpened where it counts: eyes, nose and lips. (slide the slider left and right to compare)


The idea behind retouching is to make a lot of little changes that add up to a big change. We believe that big changes in a single stroke remove the emotion from the image. Here’s what we mean:

Overly Processed Retouch

This set shows our retouch versus a really common approach. The skin is blurred and softened. The skin texture is completely gone. The eyes just don’t pop. The personality of our little man has been lost to an artificial look.


We’re guilty of having done this in the past. It’s quick and easy. Free web-based photo editors will even apply this filter for you. It doesn’t require the 10-15 minutes and access to Adobe Photoshop that a real retouch does. Many¬†people may even be¬†satisfied with this overly processed result. We hope that people reading this article are looking for something more.

All About that Texture

This is a shot of half of our team. Before and after a pretty thorough retouch.

Here’s a 100% crop of his eye, before and after.

The texture of the skin and freckles are maintained even though the entire image is cleaned up.


Our goal isn’t to call into question the skills or tools used by our local photography peers. We just hope to make gulf coast photography shoppers more informed when hiring a wedding, newborn or portrait photographer. If you’re a photographer looking to up your retouch game, get in touch with us and we’ll share some tips.



» Gulf Shores Photography, Lifestyle, Orange Beach Photography, Photographer Shopping, Photos » Retouching: What to Look For
On December 14, 2014

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