How Much to Retouch?

My usual approach to editing is staying in Lightroom for everything. I have an idea of what some sliders do and I have a few go-to’s that do what I like to see. I push things here. Move things there. And BOOM! Final photo.

When it comes to editing portraiture, I am generally new to the game. My issue is when the final product still needs to look natural. I am always concerned as to how far to take the adjustments.

I suppose it all comes down to personal taste, what the goal is on a particular photo, or what a client hopes to see. I am sure I’ll dive into other methods of editing in the future. But for this edit, I wanted to maintain a believable photo. So no super sharp eyes or glowing skin. You know, that edits that make a kid look like a porcelain doll.

Editing a kid was it’s own hurdle. I’ve always read that you don’t need/want to edit a kid too much because they already have white teeth and perfect skin. So when I found a YouTube tutorial on editing a kid’s portrait, I was skeptical of how many adjustments they used.

Regardless of my skepticism, I dove in and followed along. Being sure to keep my end goal in mind.

In the end, I had 11 adjustments and 3 groups. (Groups in Photoshop is something brand new to me but I already like how they’re used)! I think I did a good job of keeping the photo looking “believable.” When I started, I didn’t think the photo really needed any retouching. I almost didn’t do much of anything past some shadow and sharpening adjustments in Lightroom. But now comparing the before and after side-by-side, I can’t imagine posting the original!

This edit was my personal preference at the time and I’m happy enough with how it turned out. But I’m going to keep taking photos and editing. Try new things. Push the limits. Maybe one day I’ll land on what I considered to be “my style.”