Is a nose a nose? Or full cheeks full cheeks? Are blemishes blemishes? What to leave untouched in the retouching process and what to 'fix'?

I believe there is a difference between the image taken at 1/200th of a second and the lively person standing in front of the camera when the moment is frozen - a certain angle may show a cheek a little more full than anyone would ever actually see on the you in 'real life'; the nose may appear bigger, smaller, etc. etc. than any person would perceive it when being around you

So, where does this leave the retouching of your image? 

I believe retouching should:

  • Remove / clean / fix blemishes, marks etc. that are temporary; acne, a small wound, red nose due to a cold, etc. In other words, all stuff on the face that is expected to be there for only a period of time is cleaned during retouch
  • Reduce excessive shadows and color casts caused by artificial effects (i.e. the lights in the studio, color casts from shirts and the like)
  • Reduce redness in skin caused by the strong studio light - thinner skin types tend to show the blood veins more clearly under the strong light and is not a part of how people look under normal light conditions
  • Reduce (but not remove) the shadows in the life lines (wrinkles) caused by the studio light and camera sharpness
  • Clean crazy hair that's all over the face - even though I do my very best to remove stray hair and bangs before hitting the button, some feisty hair may come back and this gets removed too during my retouch
  • Reduce features that look unnatural at the given angle - again, I do all I can to make sure this doesn't happen before I shoot, but sometimes an impromptu smile can cause a cheek to stand out more than anyone would ever see or the light may hit your nose making it look in a way that no-one would've seen on the 'live you'

But first and foremost I believe that no images should look retouched - images that looks retouched are beauty shots to me and not a real representation of you - and this is what I believe a headshot should be


Click on the image to see a larger version - before retouching is the top image ;-)