Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

Note: The lighting and exposure for both of the above photographs are identical: Canon EOS 5D, EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, Gossen Luna Star F-2 flash/ambient light meter, Westcott Strobelite Plus monolight with, 45-inch Optical White Satin Umbrella with Removable Black Cover, and fill from a 32-inch Sunlight Westcott Illuminator

One of the biggest challenges 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 much retouching to start with.

Begin by working 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 my photograph of Tia Stoneman, an amateur actress/model and mother of two kids. Another way to minimize retouching is to slightly overexpose the portrait making it just a little lighter and brighter than what your meter says is “correct.” Using both of these techniques will greatly minimize any retouching challenges later.

The Left-hand image of Tia Stoneman was made in my small makeshift basement studio in a working space of less than 7×8 feet with lower than eight foot high ceilings. My camera position was five feet away from Tia. This photograph was made as she came in off the street in street clothes wearing no make-up. The lighting and camera for this “before” image was the same that I would use later for the “after.” Camera was a Canon EOS 5D with EF 85mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure in manual mode of 1/60 sec at f/13 and ISO 200.

The Left-hand image was deliberately shot to produce the approximately the same head size as the before image but lots changed with Tia starting with her wardrobe and make-up. Afterwards, some light digital retouching was done using Imagenomic’s Portraiture. This Photoshop-compatible plug-in offers smoothing and blemish removal while preserving skin texture and delicate details such as the subject’s hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. The final touch was added with Nik Software’s Glamour Glow filter that’s part of the Complete Edition of Color Efex Pro 3.0.

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.

You can read more about Joe’s retouching techniques in “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography” a new book published by Amherst Media.

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