I'm often asked about editing and retouching so I thought I would share a bit about my philosophy on editing, and my workflow as I go through the retouching process.
I am very much drawn to the raw, candid, unscripted style of photography but that doesn't mean I share straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC) shots with my clients. Ok, sometimes I will do that during a session because I just can't help myself, but 99% of the time, I will not.
The reason is that blemishes, scars, or anything that my client sees as a 'flaw' will be forever burned in their mind no matter how much I clean up the image afterwards, and I don't want that to happen. I want my clients to see the absolute best, most beautiful version of themselves, which is the version that the rest of the world sees. I do not believe in making drastic physical changes like smaller waist or bigger boobs. I also do not retouch to the point that my client looks like a plastic doll. Let's face it, that doesn't look good on anybody.
Editing and retouching is discussed during the initial consult. I have found that sometimes a scar is a badge of honor and my client wants the world to see what they've come through and survived. Other times, it's the opposite, so to remove or not remove a scar or 'flaw' is something I have to establish before I even pick up my camera.
I use dodge (lightening) more than I do burning (darkening). We all have lines and creases (especially at high-resolution) so I use the dodge tool to lessen shadows in the lines and creases. The dodge tool is also very instrumental in evening out any blotchy areas on the skin. The last step in my retouching workflow is a bit of cloning or frequency separation (see image to the right). This helps to 'soften' the skin a bit if needed. This is a very minimalist approach to retouching but I have found it to be very effective in cleaning up an image.
The remainder of the time I will spend on the final edits of images will be on color grading and sometimes special filters. For me, it's rarely a one-size-fit-all when it comes to applying a filter or a color panel and by the time the images are ready for the final reveal, I will have spent a total of about 30-60 minutes on each and every image (not including culling).
This process is tedious and time consuming but, I love it.