The subject of “retouching” comes up all the time these days, so instead of putting a blurb about it in my F.A.Q. section, I’m devoting a whole page to it so I can show you rather than tell you about it. I’m often asked by prospective clients if I’m going to retouch all of their images. My answer is always a question though. “What does retouching mean to you?” There are many different levels of retouching, and here I’m going to deal with the 3 most common in my day to day work as a photographer. We’re going to work with 3 identical images here, from the pre-ceremony time frame of a recent wedding at the Founders Inn.

The image of the Bride to the left is STRAIGHT out of the camera. This is exactly how I intended this photograph to come out. It was shot with off camera flash triggered via wireless remote with a Nikon D700 camera sporting a Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII lens. It was deliberately underexposed 2/3 of a stop in order to preserve the detail in the Bride’s dress and in her bouquet. (also taking the background into consideration) This is the photograph that I work with. You would never see an image straight out of the camera in your proofing area or in the full size images you’d receive as part of your wedding coverage.
The image of the Bride to the left has been converted from RAW format with Adobe Camera Raw where I’ve tweaked the levels, color balance, brightness, saturation, and other appropriate settings to make the image look as I intend it to look while still being true to color and the lighting conditions it was taken under. After I’ve converted this image from RAW format to a level 12 jpg (to avoid noise and loss of detail) I pull it natively into Adobe Photoshop CS5 to perform my normal hand corrections to the image. I do each and every image I shoot manually in Photoshop. One at a time. In this case I’ve lightened the Bride’s face a little bit, did a curves adjustment to increase contrast, added a few layer masks to brush in or brush out some detail. After I’m happy with the look I add a little sharpening for print purposes. This is the way a normal image will appear in your proofing interface and in the full size images you’d receive as part of your wedding coverage. This would make a fine print just like it is.

The image to the left has been RETOUCHED. I don’t work from the NORMAL image created in my standard process to do a retouch such as the one you see here. I work from the camera RAW file to create a much higher quality 16 bit image to work from. Images such as the one to the left are intended to be “HEIRLOOMS”. This kind of digital work is time consuming and very precise. In this case my normal basic work flow is done. Then on top of that there are 8 areas addressed. 1. Skin 2. Eyes. 3. Teeth 4. Hair 5. Clothing 6. Sculpting 7. Distraction Removal 8. Background Enhancement. To do this level of “retouching” to each and every image from a 8-9 hour wedding package (well over 1000 images in many cases) would literally take a month or more working on nothing else but those images. So the short answer is no, I don’t “retouch” every image. What I do to each image is the middle image of this page. I DO artistic enhancements to a great many images taken during wedding coverage, but glamor retouching is reserved for large prints ordered after a wedding or a portrait session.Images that go into your wedding albums are enhanced to a greater degree than my normal work flow. Those get special treatment that I’m happy to do as part of my services.

I’m happy to GLAMOR retouch any image you ask me to. Just bear in mind that there will be an extra charge for the time involved in performing the service.

So, I hope this page is helpful! 🙂