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Retouching wedding and portrait photos

A couple of posts ago I was talking about ownership of digital files and whether it was still worth ordering wedding photographs through your photographer.
(Digital files as part of a wedding photography package)

If capturing a good image on camera is the most important part of photography, then post processing comes a close second. I said I would show a few examples of the difference between the basic corrections you would get on your CD of photos, and how the same image could look after professional retouching. I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding something to show you without upsetting any former clients, so I’ve picked a portrait rather than a wedding photograph.

The two photos below show Michelle with her six month old son, Elliot. Michelle looks lovely in any photo, but was up with a teething baby for most of the previous night and is a bit tired. (Elliot, on the other hand, has had a very nice rest and is looking forward to his next daytime snooze!).

The difference between the two photos is quite subtle and I hope it shows on your computer screen. The photo on the left is how you would receive it if it was part of my wedding photography package. The basic work has been done, the colour and density are fine. This could be taken to a printers and you would get a perfectly good print. The photo on the right shows the same photo with retouching. The most obvious work is underneath Michelle’s eyes. I’ve lightened and smoothed the skin here, which makes her look as if she has had a decent nights sleep. I’ve also done some light retouching on the skin, taken off some shine, lightened the eyes and done some dodging and burning on both their faces. I’ve done a curves adjustment to increase contrast and reduced a slight yellow cast. The edges of the image have been darkened and blurred a little to bring the focus more to the faces. In preparation for printing I would also sharpen the image, depending on the final size, and put on borders and keylines as required.

Anything you can see here would be much more obvious in a decent size print or in an album. I recommend to my clients that they order their more important photos through me, rather than printing straight from their CD or DVD. This way they will cost a bit more, but you will be getting the very best from your images.


This is a very light retouch, just a little tweak can sometimes make all the difference. I like to keep portraits looking natural and not overdo the Photoshopping. There are other times when some of the more noticeable effects and adjustments can look great, I’ll try and show some of those in another post.

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Donnieboy - Just wanted to drop you a line to say, I enjoy reading your site. I thought about starting a blog myself but don’t have the time.
Oh well maybe one day…. :)

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