Notes on Photoshop
It’s typically the third or forth sentence out of every new client’s mouth: ” … but you can Photoshop that right?” Doesn’t matter if it’s yellow teeth, a chubby mid-section, or slightly asymmetrical earlobes ( yes, I’ve heard that ) – everyone has something they aren’t too thrilled about what it comes to their appearance. As a photographer it’s our job to keep it ethical and still please the client, but how do we do that?
First – what’s ethical? Well, we do our best not to “pre-touch:” that’s the process by which ( mostly ) amateur photographers go in and highly edit the portraits before the client sees them. Think about it from the photographer’s perspective; they have a client they know will not only enjoy “slightly” retouched portraits better but will probably order more ( and therefore pay more ) if their guts look just a BIT smaller in the portraits they view. Is it ethical to do work on them before the images are even seen? That’s a tough one, but if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that no matter what you do before a client sees the images they will still ask for additional edits after seeing them TEN years that has insisted we do absolutely no post-production work to her imagery ).
Second – what exactly do we do afterwards? First we inform our clients of our goal: ” we want you to look like you would on your best day.” That means that we’re not attempting to take ten years off their appearance or digitally cover their head with more hair. After that we tell them what the typical roster includes: light airbrushing, teeth-whitening, eye-lightening and blemish removal. We’re happy to do more but won’t without specific input from the client. In a perfect world no one would ever know that we did anything when seeing a portrait.
In the end we’d rather just do a little and let the client decide whether or not they want a lot. It’s the only way we’ve found we can do our job and feel like we did the right thing at the end of the day. Have we taken twenty years off? Sure have. Have I removed the bags under my own eyes in my headshot? Of course. Do you want the same done in your portrait? Up to you.