Headshot Retouching: Before and After

Headshot retouching before and after in one image

Last week I photographed the portrait of an aspiring actor, and as with all of my photo packages, his included retouching services on select photos. Actors and models use headshots – a portrait literally taken from the shoulders up with a focus on the face – as their calling cards. The headshot is the make or break image that gets an actor in the door for an audition.

Headshot retouching before and after in one image

As such, the headshot has to be perfect. With headshots, portraits are taken over a given amount of time (twenty minutes to two hours, with modeling portfolios lasting up to five hours), and while all of the photos taken during that time are edited for basic color correction and contrast, the client selects a few photos for full retouching services.

Full retouching includes removal of blemishes (and anything else distracting to the eye: lint, stains, etc.), brightening of under eye circles, smoothing skin for a less wrinkled appearance, whitening teeth, and brightening eyes. It’s a time consuming process, and generally can take from thirty minutes to an hour per photo.

Actor headshot with full retouching services
After full retouching

Note, however, that the goal of retouching is not to transform the client into a completely different person. The face you walk in with should be the same photo in your headshot. Particularly with men, who need to retain a certain ruggedness, you can’t turn the client into a porcelain doll with perfectly smoothed over skin. Rather, it should be a refreshed and rested face looking back at you. And that’s where the magic of photo editing software comes in.

Peter selected seven photos that he wanted to have retouched, and I made the necessary changes. Take a look at the photos to see the before and after transformation.

Actor headshot, as photographed in camera, for an article on headshot retouching before and after
Original photo, no retouching
Actor headshot with basic retouching
After basic retouching
Actor headshot with full retouching services
After full retouching
Actor headshot, as photographed in camera, for an article on headshot retouching before and after
Original photo, no retouching
Actor headshot with basic retouching
After basic retouching
Actor headshot with full retouching services
After full retouching
Actor headshot, as photographed in camera, for an article on headshot retouching before and after
Original photo, no retouching
Actor headshot with basic retouching
After basic retouching
Actor headshot with full retouching services
After full retouching
Actor headshot, as photographed in camera, for an article on headshot retouching before and after
Original photo, no retouching
Actor headshot with basic retouching
After basic retouching
Actor headshot with full retouching services
After full retouching

If you are interested in seeing more images, such as these headshot retouching before and after photos, please visit my website.

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