As a portraitist, it’s imperative that you stay ahead of trends. Your clients depend on your eye for what looks good at this point in time. That’s why seeing movies could be a tax write-off.

Also, like I always say, you’ve got to know what all of your tools can do for you. When you understand how your finishing tools work, you can make the best picture in-camera knowing what you will do with it on the computer.

LuminarAI‘s new portrait tools are remarkable and tick both of these boxes.

Skin retouching with AI

Luminar continues to be my go-to tool for skin retouching, and the latest version doesn’t disappoint. It automatically recognizes faces and reduces the distractions caused by texture in the skin. I’m gentle with retouching. My goal is to reduce distractions from my subject’s eyes.

It’s amazing that even on my own face with a beard and eyebrows and stubble, the AI finds my skin without affecting my sasquatch-like features.

Play with the sliders in the Skin panel. I think you’ll find that a setting of about 25 is usually enough for normal work. I may push it farther for specific needs, but rarely for client work.

Like the Skin slider, Eye Enhance is terrific. It sharpens and brightens and saturates naturally. If you push it to the top, it’ll look like you just discovered the adjustment brush in Lightroom circa 2009. But set at about 20, it works without drawing attention to itself. And the current trend in eye enhancement is a natural look.

Another trend in eyes, however, comes from the filters young people are using in Snapchat and Facebook. From my research, the favorite filters all include making the eyes look like animé characters. Normally, unless I’m photographing a model for a beauty-style shoot where I need symmetry, I wouldn’t use the Eye Enlarge slider. It could be used on a layer in Photoshop, though, to make one squinty eye match the other eye.

But going back to trends, and to tools provided by really smart people, you should experiment with cranking the Eye Enlarge slider to the max.

Software geniuses are smarter than you

As it happens I have fairly small eyes, and so the maximum setting may not really look like much has happened when people haven’t seen the before image. As I say, the folks who created LuminarAI are a lot smarter than me, and they surely have a better grasp of trends around the world than I do. So, if one setting at 100 is good, then a second must be better.

Export the image and use LuminarAI‘s Eye Enlarge slider a second time.

Now you can start to see the effect, but it’s still not quite as powerful as Snapchat. Let’s export again and use this marvelous tool a third time.

Bam. It’s like magic. And it’s amazing that Luminar can do this without any input from me — I don’t have to mask the eyes or do anything to identify which part of the image needs to be improved. Now that I’ve reached animé status, there’s one more bit of magic LuminarAI can add to this portrait.

Within the Eyes panel, you’ll see the Iris drop-down. This allows you to enrich or change the color of the irises. The Iris Visibility slider adjusts how densely the effect is applied. Not only can you change the color of the iris, but you can actually change the shape of the iris to cat eyes. Again, the team at Skylum is made up of bona fide geniuses: They have provided a tool that will set the trend, not just follow it.

When you understand how your post-production tools work, you can make a better picture in the camera that can be perfected on the computer.

And when you understand pop-culture trends, you can provide your clients with portraits that make them feel relevant and trendy — even bougie. The geniuses at Skylum didn’t make the sliders go to 100 without reason.

Crank those sliders up and get ready for the phone to ring off the hook with referrals. (You do have a phone that can actually ring off the hook, don’t you?)

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