From Your Photographer, With Love | Why I Don't Photoshop Portrait Clients

photoshopping philosophy from a photographer in fort wayne

Ok, so the title lies a little bit. And could also be interpreted multiple ways. I do USE Photoshop when editing portraits that I've taken, but mostly everything I'm doing is artistic editing; working with color balance, split toning, curves, etc. "Photoshopping" tends to be a term we use, to describe the act of altering the way people (particularly women) look in photographs, sometimes to the point of them being unrecognizable as the person they are in real life. It's unfair, it's not real, and it's not something I want to do.

Not because I think "If you look crappy in real life, you need to look crappy in your photos too."


The fact is I DON'T think you look crappy in real life. When I meet a client I see the color of her eyes, the sparkle in her smile, the hues of her coloring and look for ways I can photograph her to emphasize all those awesome things about who she is. I don't see the mismatched eyebrows or the extra X amount of pounds. I see, "this picture looks so cool, she's going to love having a photo of herself where she looks like she's in an entirely different world."

Now that's not to say I don't ever do a tiny it of air brushing. Which is why the title is a bit of a lie. But it's ONLY to correct issues that artistic editing creates. For instance, the process of making an image more contrasted to make eye color and hair pop can end up making the under eye area look very, very dark. Much darker than it does in real life. It can also increase the contrast of pores, making skin texture look less smooth. I'll correct these things back to a natural state. I'll also remove any zits that are noticeable because they would fade over time anyway. And that's it.

 I make sure that all my edits are subtle. I'm really, reaaaally not a fan of the whole plastic skin thing. To give you an example, I (way) over edited this photo to show you what a lot of photographers (unfortunately) do:

a blog post about photoshop, skin, airbrushing, corrections, explaining how I edit skin tones.

Not even people with flawless skin in real life look like that!! In my opinion, a good photograph always has to make sense. And being blurry as heck doesn't make much sense to me. If you know what you're doing with photoshop there are other, better ways to make subtle adjustments to return skin to it's real-life look after artistic editing.

Does it take a couple of extra steps? Does it take longer than sliding down a slider? Does it need a well-trained eye? Yes. But the results are worth it.

Ultimately my goal is not to make your arms look skinny, make you tummy flat, change your eye color or fix your roots. My goal is to help you see that you don't need to be anything other than yourself to be gorgeous, in real life AND in your portraits.

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