Why Photo Retouching is a Crucial Step for Your Professional Image

While retouching in the media often receives criticism, subtle retouching applied to your professional photographs is a crucial step to creating polished images. When it comes to photographic marketing collateral, you want to put your best foot forward. Retouching allows me, as a photographer, to showcase my subjects in their very best light. No matter how skilled we photographers are behind the lens, certain imperfections and distractions can find their way into the frame. And retouching doesn’t just eliminate those flaws… it can enhance the good things too.

Retouching is a tool to minimized minor flaws and enhance your best features.

I know how important your personal image is to your brand, and that is why retouching is a part of every photo project at Kelly Heck Photography. Retouching brings about a consistency that reinforces your brand’s identity across all visual platforms. Whether it’s a website, social media channels, or advertising campaigns, each photo in your marketing kit needs to align with your brand’s style and message. Through careful retouching, a professional photographer can enhance colors, adjust lighting, and fine-tune every element to ensure a cohesive visual experience. Such consistency reinforces your brand’s credibility and professionalism, establishing a strong foundation for brand recognition and customer loyalty.

Retouching Services available through Kelly Heck Photography:

Removal of Skin Flaws
(zits, blackheads, pockmarks, dry skin, redness)

Softening of Wrinkles & Skin Glare
(i.e., oily highlights from the studio lights reflecting)

Teeth Whitening
(and sometimes elimination of tooth-chips)

Eye Whitening & Removal of Blood Vessels

Softening of Under-Eyes

Eyebrow Darkening

Stray Hair Removal
(including crazy eyebrow hairs, ear hairs, missed facial hairs, etc.)

Hair Volumizing

Body Slimming & Shaping

Clothing Fixes

Smoothing of Bumps
(along shoulders of dress jackets and other fabrics)

Balancing of Highlights & Shadows

Backdrop Clean-Up

Backdrop Swaps

Color Shifts for Branding
(one step on the rainbow, like from green to aqua or saturating / desaturating specific colors)

Eyeglass Glare Removal

Darkening of Scalp
(where hair is thin or showing gray roots)

Scar & Tattoo Removal

Background Extension

Digital Cutouts

At the end of a retouching session, my goal is to have created a more true representation of the subject “at a glance“, or rather, what that person looks like to me in the flesh. In real life, I am not studying a subjects’ face for wrinkles and “flaws” or scanning their body and clothing for lumps or bumps. I am seeing a moving, living, breathing person. I want your final portrait to convey the real-life YOU!

The art of high-quality retouching is not knowing that it’s been done.

And it’s not just about retouching or editing the people in my photographs… retouching also encompasses everything around and behind the subject too. The new releases in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop have brought AI into the arena. As a professional photographer, I can now do things like eliminate lamp posts, vehicles, and other distracting elements with a simple click of the mouse. I can select just the subject, the sky, the background, or a specific person, to make adjustments to just those areas separate of the rest of the photograph. And I can use AI to generate more background, asking the software to “make up” more of the environment with prompts (just like when asking ChatGPT to help with writing projects). I’m just touching the surface of these new retouching tools in these programs and I am tickled to death.

These are powerful photo retouching tools that I now bring to my clients’ projects.

Finally, I wanted to share where you as the subject can help make more stunning photographs…

In the photo industry, there is a saying about “getting it right in-camera“. A stronger photo offers more flexibility when it comes to retouching. It is my job to get it right in camera, so I will bring my A-Game when it comes to lighting, posing, and composing. You can bring your A-Game too! Set aside a little time to pamper and prepare yourself for photo day. Following are some photo day preparation tips to ensure you are photo-ready:

  • Moisturize ALL Exposed Skin – Dry skin can be tricky to retouch, especially if you have flakiness across large patches of skin. Pay attention to any skin that will be visible on photo day. This includes your face, neck, hands, arms, elbows, legs, knees, ankles, feet, and toes.
  • Exfoliate – If those little flakes of skin just will not go away, you can whip up some homemade gentle scrub with ingredients in your kitchen (try sugar and coconut oil).
  • Love those Lips – Women are likely already wearing a lip balm or lipstick of some kind. But men should consider applying chap stick. Dry lips look a little lack luster, and the teeny bit of sheen from chapstick does wonders to both moisturize and bring a little more natural color back to your lips.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – Water is GREAT for your skin. Make sure you are well hydrated the day before and day of photo day.
  • Attend to those Pesky Hairs – Stray whiskers, nose hairs, ear hairs, crazy eyebrow hairs… do your best to trim and pluck anything out of place.
  • A Timely Cut & Dye – Do not wait till the last minute for a new hair color, fresh haircut, or root touch-up. Aim to complete this task about 2 weeks before your photo day for women, and 1 week before for men.
  • Look in the Mirror – Just before you step in front of the camera, do a double-check. Make sure your wardrobe, hair, make-up, and other details seem just right. You will know better than I if something is out of place.
  • Tell Your Photographer – Are you worried about any details? Make sure your photographer knows what to keep an eye out for, and please don’t be shy here. As your photographer, we want to know what features you want minimized or hidden, as well as what features you love and want enhanced.

A professional photographer will ensure that every detail of your final image receives meticulous attention and care. From correcting imperfections to accentuating your best features, professional retouching adds the final WOW-factor that leaves a lasting impression. Prepare for your photo day by following the suggested tips, communicate your preferences with your photographer, and experience the exceptional results of professional photo service and image retouching.