While photographers have been touching up and editing pictures pretty much since the invention of photography, the digital age and the popularity of Photoshop has brought an explosion to image editing. This is good and bad. Just as there can be awkward posing, there are also a lot of awkwardly-edited images. While trying making the customer happy is important, it is easy to over-edit images. Some of the best images are edited so the viewer can’t tell they are edited. This means, that if you are going to edit an image, you need to do a good job!
While many problems can be corrected with posing and lighting at the time of the photo shoot, adjustments can also be made later, in an image editing program. Some basic areas to work on in a portrait image are exposure, color balance, and touch-ups. Exposure and color balance can be tweaked relatively easily using image editing software.
Touch-ups such as blemish removal will take some practice, but are not too difficult to learn. The key is to not over-do it. Try to make your image edits look as natural as possible. A ninety-year-old great-grandmother with wrinkles should not have her skin smoothed to look like a twenty-year-old model. This would look extremely unnatural. Instead, when touching up blemishes, it looks more natural to minimize the blemishes, rather than remove them completely. Certain blemishes, such as scars or moles, should not be removed without the portrait subject’s permission.
I have to admit that I have been guilty of over-editing in the past. I’ve over-smoothed skin, over-brightened eyes, and have committed many other image editing crimes. Fortunately, either the customer was happy with the work I did, or at least they didn’t complain to me about it.
If you want to enhance your images to give them a more professional look, there are some options for photographers on a small budget.