I occasionally refer to deliverable images in a few ways: Edited or Retouched (no, I don’t release unedited images). Lets take a look at what I mean when I say each thing:
Edited images: are corrected for exposure, basic color adjustments, etc. This generally means using Lightroom or Capture One Pro. While both of these are very powerful editors neither have the pixel-punishing-power of Photoshop, which leads us to Retouching.
Retouched portraits: I get deep in the weeds of fancy Photoshoppery including: removing blemishes / pimples, skin smoothing, removing sweat, removing fly-away / stray hairs, brightening eyes, etc., IE: magazine quality work.
Let’s look at an image from a recent photoshoot as an example.
Above is an original and an edited image to compare. In the edited version I’ve cropped it, adjusted the exposure, black point, adjusted highlights & shadows, contrast, clarity, dehaze, and did a bit of color toning.
And now (above) let’s look at the edited and retouched images. I’ve done additional color grading, skin retouching, dodging & burning, removed the wrinkles in the background, fixed her hair, some small skin blemishes, adjusted her arm a little, and more.
Retouching is time consuming work. Most of the time I do it over 2 sessions. The first session I go through and make all the changes that I think I want to see. Then I give my eyes a break because at a certain point you can’t see the forest for the trees. When I go back to revisit the image I typically pull back some of the adjustments, having seen it all with fresh eyes. I’ll then also make some additional changes that I may have missed in the first session.