The Elephant In The Room
Before continuing with The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Two, I wish to first address the two ton elephant in the room. The pachyderm I speak of is the ubiquitous misconception that exists within our communities as to what constitutes retouching and its necessity.
A week does not go by without someone telling me that either a friend or family member is a “professional photographer” and they can “do the retouching on their own.” I have yet to speak with a photographer who has not experienced this firsthand. It’s hard to know what to say – well, for me it is.
I’ve given up asking about the qualifications of the “professional photographer” of which they speak. The narrative is invariably the same – something about how they love photography and are really good with outdoor photos of kids/family. They come to me for headshots because “they don’t do all that studio lighting” – not realizing the very essences of photo-graphy is writing with light…
As we are all too well acquainted, anyone with a few extra bucks can buy Photoshop and can begin manipulating pixels. In fact, an ever increasing segment of the American population is doing exactly that – at an alarming rate.
Regardless, and interestingly enough, when these same people are asked if the mere ownership of a scalpel makes them a surgeon, they answer decidedly in the negative. They also recognize that toting a hammer does not make them a master carpenter, nor buying the finest cookware magically transforms them into a chef. But owning a Camera/Photoshop/Wacom Tablet? Voila! They’re miraculously a professional photographer!
The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Two: “The Elephant In The Room“
This misunderstanding of what makes for a professional photographer is key to understanding what’s exacerbating today’s confusion as to what establishes bonafide retouching. There are two primary causes:
- The general public is unaware that an “Art of Retouching” actually exists, and that it requires extensive study, talent and dedication to master it (e.g. I began in 1992 with PSD 2.5, “Merlin”).
- The level of respect afforded the “profession” of photography, which is instinctively entrusted to a host of other professional services, is profoundly lacking for those who wear the appellation “photographer.”
To wit, the most common remarks voiced by clients are variations of the following:
- I don’t need retouching – I want to look natural.
- I want very light retouching – I want to look natural.
- I don’t want your best level of retouching – I want to look natural.
Do you see the pattern developing here? Everyone want’s to “look natural” – naturally! Appropriately so. After all, who wants to look UNnatural? Not me. Nor do my clients.
So ends The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Two. Next up is Part Three, why “It’s Only Natural” in Headshot portraits is anything but natural.
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