The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Two

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.

The Art of Retouching Headshot | Part Two, Elephant-In-the-Room, Mark Jordan Photography

The Art of Retouching Headshot Part Two – If all it takes to be a professional are tools, even an elephant can boast that it’s a Professional Photographer.

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

The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part One PREVAILING PERSPECTIVE
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Three IT’S ONLY NATURAL
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four CONVERSATIONAL RETOUCHING

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:

  1. 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”).
  2. 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.

Wonderful, at least we are ALL on the same page. More on what “natural” looks like and how we might educated out clients in Part Three and Part Four.

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.

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 Two

Hi there



Pellentesque eleifend, magna non condimentum luctus, diam magna aliquam sem, vel porta diam turpis sit amet ipsum. Maecenas malesuada commodo magna.

Featured Posts