Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Very Disturbing Experience

I just had my first, and hopefully ONLY experience of being retouched by a professional. It was wrenching. First, I felt insulted. Why would I want to try and look younger and prettier than I am? Or like I wear a ton of makeup?
Secondly, I was dismayed. This is how I'm supposed to look? I was very happy with the photos, but after seeing the image returned by the retoucher, I saw all my flaws larger than life. I sent it back asking for no retouching on the face, just color correction- those are my flaws, and I'm keeping them, thank you very much.

This shoot of me by Nathaniel Welch was piggybacked on the shoot of the former National Security council chief Robert Clarke at the Discover offices last week. The final select will be used as a headshot on my Visual Science blog. Normally I find being photographed is like eating glass, but the capable Nathaniel made it almost easy. Nathaniel did try to sell me on another lighting set up that I wasn't crazy about by telling me it made me look interesting. So I had to tell him "I AM interesting. I'd rather just look good". I suppose these are some of the benefits of producing your own portrait shoot. He also made good, clean shots of the notably brusque Clarke in just a few minutes. I was impressed, and will definitely be using him again.


  1. he he it is a very odd experience they really did give you the typical overly airbrushed look the idea is of course to even out the skin tones and get rid of blotches etc but as usual they go way too far but some people actually like the porcelain look


  2. Hi Rebecca,
    Wow, a bit heavy handed in the retouching for a portrait session. No wonder you were upset, I would be too. The relationship with the retoucher is such an important one for the photographer. Personally, I try to only use people I have trained in my studio. The healing tool and the clone stamp tool are off limits unless there is some real emergency. Skin needs to look like skin in order for a human to look like a human. Too often the retouchers want to take the easy way out and just mush out the whole texture. I always make them do everything in layers, each area and all the associated curves, so then I can turn them off, or turn them down if I want.

    Maybe we should start a support group for humans looking like humans?

    Best wishes,

    David Harry Stewart

  3. That's way too over-the-top! And left no detail in the neck. You look better just the way you are.

  4. Not that one could tell much at the size of the images you posted, but "professional" is a term too often bandied about nowadays - as is "high end". Doesn't look professional to me and I am a professional retoucher.

  5. Perhaps it was professional only in the sense that they were indeed being paid for the work..
    Thanks for the kind comments, all!

  6. That retouch was a crime against humanity. But...you look much friendlier in your facebook photo, all smiley and with a flower in your hair...ya know...easy breezy. You can kick ass in art and science and look kind, don't ya think? Can't you just run that shot?

  7. Hi Tim, I liked the ones where I was smiling better, but my web editor liked this one the best..