Photo manipulation is a subject that is a hot topic in the media, ranging from YouTube video transformations/reveals to South Park’s Wendy Testaburger in the The Hobbit episode. People lamenting that Photoshop and magazines have skewed how we as women, in particular, view ourselves and societal expectations of beauty. As a glamour portraiture photographer, this insecurity is something I work with on a daily basis. “I’m too fat/skinny. I’m too old. I’m too tall/short. I am not photogenic.” It’s my job to teach my clients how to pose in order to create a beautiful capture. (Yes, you WILL be sore after my shoots if you are a client and you’ll know how to pose for your selfies from then on!)
I try to be light-handed in my retouching because of one simple reason. When I was 19, I had a portrait taken in a now defunct professional studio. The retoucher removed all trace of the smile lines from under my eyes. (This was in the days when retouching happened on negatives.) The photo never looked like me for that reason, and it bothered me. Recently I scanned and cleaned up the original with my smile lines cloned back in. I made a conscious decision to not remove/manipulate the subtleties that define someone.
Most times I have an amazing hair and makeup artist working with me, but there are times when the client comes in having done their own. Yes, having a pro who is familiar with doing hair and makeup for a photo shoot makes my retouching later much easier. In post-production I clean up blemishes, errant hairs, under eye darkness, lighten deep wrinkles, uneven textures and clothing oddities. I remember that a little nudge to pull in a waist can quickly turn into what translates into several inches in the scale of the photo. Fantasy edits are fun to do, but I feel that my clients are happy with me showing them their “best side”…not their “fantasy side”.