An Overview of Photographic Retouching Techniques

Although a photographer can take an excellent picture, there’s a limit to what one can do with regards to the location, ugly backgrounds, weather conditions, reflections and other visual flaws.

Digital editors adjust the photos taken by photographers to enhance their composition, and relay the vision more concisely. This produces the kind of results that clients have come to expect.

We might regard retouching as a case of touching up the skin, or removing blemishes from the face of a model for a billboard advert. However, the procedure is much more involved than this.

Photography Outdoors

Let’s look at a case where several shots were taken of a fashion model outdoors, in a daylight location. Throughout the day, photographs were taken in natural light, which changed gradually during the day when the sun moved across the sky. The cameraman moved his camera and altered the area where the model stood, to acquire the best light possible. However, ultimately, this only improved things to a limited extent.

Improving the Clarity of Images by Retouching Outdoor Photos

Retouching the photographs from this outdoor photography session offered ways to eliminate distracting reflections from the windows that the model stood in front of. Images with faded light can be retouched to increase their light levels, and make the model jump out from the surroundings. The glow in each photo is changed using a white and black layer, to boost the balance of soft light. This is especially effective at changing how the background looks.

Making the Model Look as Good as Possible in the Photo

Imperfections, anything from skin wrinkles to archived photo damage, is eliminated using artist equipment within software suites like Adobe Photoshop. Hair colour adjustments, skin brightening, slimmed down faces, freckle removal, and even including trendy reflections in the glasses worn by models are all possibilities.

Putting a subtle tattoo on the neck of a model, trying different makeup, and enhancing the colour in their cheeks all helps to beautify the final photograph ready for web publication or printing.

Realism in Photos

As far as final shots go, photo realism is extremely important. Enhancing photos using different retouching methods to make fashion models look perfect (and clean backgrounds up) must appear true to life. If something looks unnatural in a still photograph, it sticks out badly and destroys the overall look. Certainly, the retouched photograph might be nicer to look at than the real life version, when compared with the initial still photograph. However, to the naked eye, the final photo must appear natural. If not, then the process of retouching has failed to do what it set out to do.