Better Portraits Through Makeup & Retouching

One challenge facing aspiring portrait photographers is retouching. Out here in the real world, few of us are perfect. In fact Cindy Crawford once famously said, “even I don’t look like Cindy Crawford when I get up in the morning!” So before you doing any retouching on a digital image file there are a few steps you can take to make sure that your portraits won’t need that much retouching to begin with.

One way to minimize retouching is to slightly overexpose the portrait making it a little lighter and brighter than what your meter says is “correct.” It will minimize retouching challenges later. Next work with a good make-up artist and believe me, they are worth whatever they charge. Greeley Colorado’s Diana Lareé did the make up for the photograph below.

The “before” image—no makeup, no retouching—at left was made in my old basement studio in a working space of 7×8 feet with less than eight foot high ceilings. My camera position was five feet from the subject. This photograph was made as she came in off the street in street clothes wearing no make-up. Camera was a Canon EOS 5D with EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The lighting for this “before” image was the same that I would use later for the “after” photograph below.

Portrait Professional

The right-hand image was  shot to produce the approximately the same head size as the before image but lots changed starting with wardrobe and make-up. Afterwards,  retouching was done using Portrait Professional. After a simple mark-up phase, this Mac OS and Windows program improves your portraits by  moving a few sliders. You can fix skin blemishes in a fraction of the time conventional touch-up software requires, reduce and/or remove wrinkles, and eliminate grease, sweat, or shine from a subject’s skin. You can also subtly reshape all or any aspect of the face to reduce the subject’s apparent weight or make the face subtly more attractive

Before and After images like these two also make great marketing tools and I always print composite images on one sheet of letter-size photo paper to show potential clients as well as modeling agencies.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.04.28 AMMy book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography is full of tips, tools and techniques for glamour and boudoir photography and includes information on all of the cameras and lenses used as well as the complete exposure data for each image. New copies are available from Amazon for $23.95 with used copies selling for $15.17, as I write this.

Author: Joe Farace

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