There are several basic principles to consider when retouching and editing headshots. These include skin retouching, eye and teeth whitening, colour correction and exposure adjustment, and background removal and replacement.
Skin retouching is one of the most critical elements of headshot retouching and editing. It involves removing blemishes, smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines, and creating a more even skin tone. There are several techniques used for skin retouching, including the clone stamp, healing brush, and frequency separation.
Eye and Teeth Whitening
Whitening or just lightening teeth
Is another essential element of headshot retouching. A bright and healthy smile can significantly enhance the subject’s appearance and overall image. Eye whitening can also help to make the subject’s eyes appear brighter and more focused. These techniques are usually performed using a combination of the brush and adjustment layers in editing software. For young people, having bright white teach makes sense and can look great. For older people it may be best just to lighten their teeth so it doesn’t detract from their look. The photo editor will need to use good judgement.
Colour Correction and Exposure Adjustment
Both colour correction and exposure adjustments are elements of headshot retouching and editing that can’t be ignored. They help to correct any issues with the colour balance and exposure levels in the original photograph, ensuring that the subject appears as natural and authentic as possible. Colour correction involves adjusting the colours in the image to ensure that they are accurate and consistent. Colour is also dependant on your computer monitor and the creatives personal taste. Some like headshots with strong colour, others desaturated.
Exposure adjustment is used to correct any issues with the brightness and contrast levels in the photograph.
Background removal or replacement are techniques used to remove or replace the background in a headshot photograph. In our context we mean remove the variations in the white backdrop, or what ever colour the client has chosen so it is smooth and consistent.
This can be useful for removing any distracting elements in the background or creating a more uniform look to the headshot. Background removal is usually performed using masking or selection tools, while background replacement involves adding a new background image or creating a composite image. Full replacement is used on the more stylized commercial adverts than to build a person brand and so should be made clear in the proposal if it is included.
Advanced Techniques in Headshot Retouching and Editing
There are several advanced techniques used in headshot retouching and editing that can take a headshot from good to great. These include hair retouching, face reshaping and body contouring, background replacement and compositing, and adding makeup and digital cosmetics. Not something that we use as we like the more natural look than the highly processed style.
Hair retouching is used to correct any issues with the subject’s hair in the photograph. This can involve removing any flyaway hairs, adding volume, or adjusting the colour and tone of the hair to make it look more natural and healthy. Again not something we include as standard.
Face Reshaping and Body Contouring
Face reshaping and body contouring are techniques used to adjust the shape and proportion of the subject’s face and body. This can involve adjusting the shape of the nose, chin, or jawline, as well as adding or removing weight or muscle tone. We prefer to guide the person in their best pose to bring out the most attractive features than alter their image in post production. There’s no wrong or write but that is our method.
Background Replacement and Compositing
Background replacement and compositing involve adding or replacing the background in a headshot photograph to create a more polished and professional image. This can be useful for creating a specific look or theme in the headshot, such as a corporate or creative setting.
Adding Makeup and Digital Cosmetics
Adding makeup and digital cosmetics can be used to enhance the subject’s appearance in the headshot. This can involve adding eyelashes, lipstick, or other makeup effects, as well as adjusting the skin tone or texture to create a more polished and professional look. This process is best suited to high end fashion and make up type of commercial shoots as in our opinion keeping it real and authentic is the best approach for 99% of people.