Retouching

Retouching is available as an added cost option when ordering prints. I also retouch portraits when creating an album. Please inquire if you have a special request for retouching of a photo.

Retouching usually consists of reducing the appearance of:

  • glare on eyeglasses
  • shine on foreheads
  • yellow teeth
  • excessive skin redness
  • wrinkles
  • temporary blemishes (pimples, cuts, etc.)
  • lint on clothing

I occasionally also retouch small details in the background. When practical, I may do a bit of slimming to counter the wide-angle distortion inherent in some lenses (“pounds added by the camera”). I generally can’t remove people or large eobjects unless it’s practical to do so by ordinary cropping of the sides of a photo.

Good retouching is subtle, never obvious. It doesn’t draw any attention to itself. This is why I put the emphasis on reducing certain details, rather than eliminating them. Eliminating them completely results in an unnatural, overly perfect look. While “perfect” may sound appealing, in practice it looks artificial and is easily spotted by the viewer. This makes the viewer distrust the photo as “fake” or “photoshopped”.

The magic and wonder of photography is that the image is automatically drawn from the light emanating from the subject at a specific time. As a result, it can represent a past reality with greater vividness and authority than any other art. Photography is the ultimate memory aid. But once our trust in the image is broken, such as through excessive retouching, that special authenticity of photography is gone. What is left is more of an illustration, perhaps a good one, but not one that represents how something looked.

We’ve also moved culturally toward greater realism and away from artificiality. As a result, highly retouched images look more fake to us than they did in the past. Overly smoothed skin is now described as “plastic-looking”. Photographs that are overly retouched may give the appearance of being dated, as if from a time or place where such a look was in fashion.