The Benefits of Retouching


While photographers do their best to take an ideal shot every time they pick up their camera, many factors are completely out of their control. There is simply nothing they can do about problems such as weather conditions, undesirable reflections, unsightly backdrops, and questionable locations. Retouching allows digital editors to fix the problems the photographer could not, ensuring that every picture looks as good as it possibly can.

Retouching is not limited to the skin touch ups or blemish removal that the term is frequently associated with. Indeed, modern technology can do so much more. Consider a fashion model at an outdoor photo shoot as an example. If the session lasts all day, the amount of natural light is variable as the sun moves around the sky. Retouching allows every shot to have the optimal amount of light, even if the photographer’s lens was never exposed to ideal conditions on the day of the shoot. This helps the model pop from the background, making them stand out more than they otherwise would have. The image performs its intended task better as a result.


If the photographer was hindered by a reflection from a nearby office building, retouching can eliminate any resulting imperfections. Any imperfections on the model can also be removed, including freckles removal, faces slimmed down, and adding a brighter skin tone. The image can also be digitally enhanced to include optional features that were not originally present, such as a different hair color, different makeup, a new tattoo, or even a cool reflection in the sunglasses the model is wearing. All of these things serve to improve the final photo, ensuring that the client gets what he is paying for.

Clients will only be happy if the result of retouching still looks photo-realistic, meaning that the image cannot appear doctored even though it is. There is simply no value in an image of a model that looks fake. This does not mean that retouching should not improve upon the original photograph, just that the naked eye should not be able to determine anything artificial in the image. This is called the true-life test, and any competent digital editor knows how to pass it. Customers frequently refuse to patronize those who can’t.

In conclusion, retouching is a valuable process for the professional photographer. It can be used to overcome any problems nature presented on the day of the shoot, cover up any flaws in the model or background, and generally make a picture stand out more than it otherwise would have. Assuming it still looks like an unaltered picture, there is no reason to avoid retouching in the modern age.

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