portrait retouching, photo of Martha DiMeo

What comes to mind when someone hears the word retouching–especially for people not involved in the graphic arts or design field–is usually portrait retouching. “Can you make me look thinner and younger?” is often asked in jest when someone learns that I do digital imaging and retouching work.


In this section you’ll find examples of portraits retouched for national magazines, portraits used for business and marketing purposes, portraits for model portfolios, and portraits taken as a memento to remember a moment in time. Whether it’s a celebrity portrait for a magazine or a portrait to give to Mom, the criteria is always the same–accentuate the person’s natural features, minimize the distractions, and maintain the individuality of the person.

Retouching a person’s face is a sensitive undertaking so I’ve start off this section with a portrait of myself. I use this image on my LinkedIn profile and other social media sites. The goal for this type of retouching assignment is to make a person look like a well-rested and well-lit version of him or herself. As noted, along with softening the smile lines and shaping my hair, I removed the unwanted elements in the background.

Prepress Color Correction Instructions on Contract Proof

Portrait Retouching for Magazine Spread

Eyes greener, reduce magenta in hair, soften tonal transitions, bring out color of velvet fabric, lighten couch…The mark-up of the Meryl Streep photo is an example of the common retouching requests when a portrait is bound for a magazine spread. The entire image– the clothing, background, and props, along with the standard facial retouching corrections–are all taken into consideration.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Before/After Portrait Retouching, Removing Freckles

Portrait Retouching for Marketing Communication

Every cosmetic dermatology clinic should employ the services of a skilled retoucher. What a perfect way to show clients the possibilities of anti-aging therapy!

This image, a stock photo from iStock.com, was selected to accompany an article on non-surgical skin rejuvenation therapies. As shown in the mark-up, skin was smoothed, hot spots subdued, freckles removed, and “retouching Botox” applied to minimize the fine lines.

Tear Sheet, Tufts Medical Center, CheckUp brochure showing portrait retouching/

The photo appeared both on the cover and inside spread of the quarterly publication CheckUp, produced by Tufts Medical Center.

Client: Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA

Portrait Retouching for the book The MD Factor Diet

Portrait Retouching for Book Cover

This project incorporated two of my favorite imaging tasks: portrait retouching and the challenge of executing an impeccable silo. Read more about this project and the imaging work that is involved to create a book cover in the blog article, Portrait Retouching for Book Covers.

Client: Mayerchak & Company

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Making a Suit Fit Perfectly

Making a Suit Fit Perfectly

When a photograph is more than a head-and-shoulder portrait, the retouching required frequently includes adjustments to clothing. In this full-length portrait, a number of edits were made to the gentleman’s suit—puckers in the lapel and pants legs were eliminated, the back of the jacket tapered, and wrinkles were removed. For the design of the brochure, the figure was silo’d and the background changed to white.

The photo appeared both on the cover and inside spread of the quarterly publication CheckUp, produced by Tufts Medical Center.

Client: Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA

Photography by Boston photographer Martha Stewart.

Portrait Retouching, Photo of Melody Phaneuf

Portrait Retouching, Removing Red Color Cast

This portrait was commissioned specifically for use on marketing and promotional materials therefore color balance was of upmost importance. Melody Phaneuf, otherwise known as MelodyThe Artist, was well-rested when this photo was taken. The first consideration for portrait retouching was met. The cruical correction was to lift the veil of the red color cast in the flesh tones. Once that was completed, adjustments were made to lighten the eyes, and slightly re-shape the hair.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Oil Painting Portrait of Melody Phaneuf for Me Magazine

Retouching in Service to the Page Design

When Melody’s Phaneuf’s oil painting of her self-portrait was featured in Me magazine, the editors asked for a photographic portrait to include in the article. In its original form (shown in the previous example ) the color would have been too demanding for the oil painting to dominate. In service to the page design, the solution was to desaturate the photographic portrait. This adjustment created a hierarchy of the content on the page. First the viewer is drawn to the painting and headline, secondly to the block quote, and finally to the photo and body copy.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Portrait Retouching of Boy Before and After

Portrait Retouching, Muscle Boy I

The idea for this photograph grew out of the fascination the young boy in the photo had with wanting to be big and strong. The image was successful on a number of levels. It was a photograph for my portfolio (back when I was shooting commercially), a piece for the male model’s portfolio, and a portrait of my nephew Jamie. But, I always regretted having used blue for the background. A few years later, when I moved into digital imaging work, I now had the tools at my disposable to “right the wrong” of the background choice.

The portrait retouching encompassed contouring the man’s body so the boy would be centered, removing beauty marks, and brightening and whitening the teeth and eyes. Lastly, the red color cast was removed and contrast added to complete the photograph.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Portrait Retouching, Desaturated Look, Muscle Boy II

Portrait Retouching, Muscle Boy II

Continuing to experiment with this image (see previous photo if you have entered the site here). I lowered the chroma creating a solution that falls between full color but not quite black & white.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Portrait Retouching, Muscle Boy III

Portrait Retouching 4 color Black & White, Muscle Boy III

Finally, the third solution was to bring it to complete neutrality making it black & white.
Which version, do you prefer? Email me. Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Desaturate Photoshop Technique Portrait of Blue Eyed Girl

Portrait Retouching, Alternate Intrepretations

Long before Steve Job’s 2009 portrait by photographer Albert Watson, I photographed my young niece with her hand on her chin. I always loved the intensity and maturity of this portrait.

From the time she was a child, she has been asked if her eyes were really that blue. (I’m not sure why you would ask a 6 year old whether she is wearing contact lenses, but that’s a story for another time.)

In neither photo has the color of the eyes been enhanced. The full-color version on the left is exactly as captured on Fujichrome film. I decided to experiment with the image. To bring further emphasis to the eyes, in the alternate version on the right, the skin tone was desaturated; the eyes were left alone. Both interpretations have their appeal. I’m particularly fascinated that the desaturated version–when viewed independently of the original–does not feel altered or “Photoshopped” (the definition in my book of successful imaging work). It’s just a pleasing portrait of a little girl with big blue eyes.

Photography by Martha DiMeo, Photo Available for Licensing

Beauty Retouching, Photo of Woman Before and After

Portrait Retouching

Fly-away hair, unflattering lighting, low contrast, and slightly out-of-focus, this photo falls in the category of “Photoshop really saving the day“. Used as a insert photo in a fashion spread, shadowless lighting, even skintone, and nicely coffiered hair brought the photo to a flattering outcome.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Portrait Retouching, Fashion Photo for Magazine Spread

Removing Tan Lines ~ Fashion Spread in Bridal Magazine

Nicely composed and styled, the photograph was nearly perfect. Shot for a fashion spread, the model’s tan lines needed to be removed along with a few tweaks to the folds on the gown.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Portrait Retouching of Couple for Magazine Cover

Portrait Retouching for Magazine Cover Before and After

Staged for a magazine cover, the photograph could easily have been a “real-life ”couple on their wedding day. In either case, the retouching enhancements would have been the same–remove the distracting background, re-lite the faces, smooth the skin, add tone and detail to the blown-out areas of the woman’s hands and dress.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Accurate Colors

Accurate Colors

What does the above statement mean? All devices are not created equal. Every device, be it a computer monitor, a smartphone, or a tablet has a range of colors it can produce. This range is called its color gamut. Think of gamut as the number of colors in a box of crayons. Low-end monitors have fewer colors at their disposal to display the colors in a given photo than high-end monitors manufactured specifically for design and photo professionals.

Monitors must also be calibrated and profiled to display colors accurately. Even the most expensive monitors will not display colors accurately if they have not been calibrated and profiled. Age is important too. A monitor’s capabilities deteriorate with use and age.

To learn more about color, color perception, color settings within applications, and color management visit the Resources + More page.

For a visual demonstration on how our working environment affects color perception see the blog post Perception & Our Environment.