Retouching at its worst (and best)


Take a look at Nomi Altabef’s blog on designsessions. She analyzes the techniques of an unknown photo retoucher who used Photoshop to transform an image of Faith Hill for a Redbook magazine cover. Amazing! What is it about some retouchers and photographers that make them feel like they need to remake their models into something other than what they are? Why can’t they just remove the dust spots and blemishes and leave the model’s likeness intact? Hear what some magazine editors have to say about it on this Today show segment.

This is my opinion, not necessarily Adobe’s, but I find it disheartening that so many photographers can’t be subtle when it comes to retouching. If you look at the before and after shots of Faith Hill in this article, she’s more real and more beautiful in the “Before” picture. The retouched version presents an emaciated, distorted manikin devoid of character and personality. This retoucher went way too far—hence the award by for the most egregious example of unrealistic “beauty” standards. They call it the “Photoshop of Horrors”.

Enough about the bad side of retouching. There is plenty of good retouching happening in the world. For a great tutorial on the fine art of retouching, read Portrait Retouching by Katrin Eismann. Katrin also produced a video tutorial on retouching and restoring old photos with Photoshop CS3. If you’re working in Lightroom, check out the Spot Removal tutorial by Sean McCormack. For a nice tip on using the clone tool in Photoshop, look at Matt Kloskowski’s video.

Other links of interest on this topic:

Dove: Evolution

4 thoughts on “Retouching at its worst (and best)

  1. There are many retouchers who over-retouch, but the client often sets the standards and you must remember that. Retouchers will often make models thinner because that is what the client expects. Many models are already way to skinny to begin with, just look at the state of cat walk models today. The sample you have used is a sad reflection of the media’s ideal woman and sadly many younger men’s ideal woman: petite, submissive and non-threatening. The first image of a strong and happy woman has been transformed into a stunted calf. How women are portrayed is the responsibility of women themselves, the responsibility of the fashion, film and media industries and the education systems.

  2. Hey! Those “some retouchers” do that, because thats simply their job, they do what they are paid for. Someone magazines would do that alot, thats obviously more common in advertising. Thats because its not about showing the actual person, in this case she is not important. Its about showing something that would sell good. Such decisions are most likely not made by photoshop specialists. I think that those retouchers are last to blame that you can see the picture of some person, and its not her 🙂

  3. I don’t know why everyone puts certain artists on high pedastools when the work isn’t realistic. Many are far over rated. Bianca Carosio’s work is phenominal. All around artist!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s