The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Four

Conversational Retouching

Last in our Four Part series on professional retouching is The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four. Our post would not complete unless we identified the reason or intended purpose of the headshot.

Articulating the considerations of reason and purpose is accomplished by asking whether the headshot is either Commercial or Theatrical. Rather than rehashing the distinctions between the two here, I invite you to read my blog post (The Perfect Professional Headshot). In short, the both Commercial or Theatrical headshot are selling a product: you!

  • Commercial Headshots: generally represent the face of business.
  • Theatrical Headshots: are personality focused, i.e. actors, models, authors, etc.

Expressly, Commercial/business headshots typically benefit from applying a greater degree of retouching, creating a more acceptable persona with finely tuned facial features. For instance, though a client’s teeth may actually be yellow, eyes sizes are mismatched, and skin is rough and ruddy, it’s advisable to mitigate these distractions, which could prove to be potential barriers with potential clients. To look more natural, these unflattering features require retouching.

Theatrical/artist headshots, on the other hand, intended for agencies, tend to require a more accurate or utilitarian representation of their facial features. Nothing is more aggravating to a prospective agent than sitting in his office with a model’s headshot in hand and unable to reconcile the headshot with the person standing four feet in front of them. That is, until they amount to something, upon which I am then asked to make them appear radically younger than the are in reality…funny thing about Theatricals.

The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Four: “Conversational Retouching”

The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part One PREVAILING PERSPECTIVE
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Two THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Three IT’S ONLY NATURAL

The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four by Orange County Headshots, Mark Jordan Photography

Imagine you are talking with the lady above. Which image do you think best represents how you would be seeing her and experiencing the conversation? LEFT image is “Critical,” showing every detail. RIGHT image has been Naturally Pro Retouched to replicate how we actually recall and recognize people, CONVERSATIONALLY.

In other words, The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four, when appropriately applied, it is not intended to alter one’s character. The goal is to render the face conversationally. That is, natural headshot portrayals are best accomplished when the retouching is applied as if sitting across them in a friendly conversation. Your peripheral vision fully absorbed, while the vanity mirror examination is disengaged.

The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four by Orange County Headshots, Mark Jordan Photography

A Headshot left Plain and “NATURAL” is actually a most UN-Natural depiction of a face. Our most extensive level of retouching, PRO, renders the face CONVERSATIONALLY. Naturally.

In short, expertly applied retouching is accomplished by judicious application of both Additive and Subtractive retouching. We subtract, soften/remove those elements people do not normally notice when engaged in a conversation, while adding, bringing out, and lightly enhancing those attractive and striking features they generally do recognize.

Probably the most important take-away from The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four is that extensive retouching (i.e. our’s is the Pro-Meticulous level) is designed NOT to alter one’s “natural” character, but to render the face more conversationally.


It’s all about the Art of Retouching.

As always, should you have any questions, no concern is too small.

Mark Jordan
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit

When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.

The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Four

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