The Truth About Headshot Retouching

February 06, 2016 by Motive Retouching Image for The Truth About Headshot Retouching

“Retouching” has become a dirty word for many, representing deception, lying, unrealistic expectations, or cheating. What’s the truth?

The truth is that “retouching” is in every actor and model’s lexicon, and any veteran knows it’s a permanent part of headshots and the entertainment industry. Allow us to set the record straight about retouching and specifically the philosophy we here at Motive Retouching employ with all of our work: it is our job to bring out the best natural “you” we can.

Your headshots should show off what you’d look like on your best day at the time the photo was taken. That means the temporary conditions affecting your headshot, such as blemishes, stray hairs, strange colors, and lines brought out by odd lighting are our main targets.

The makeup artist, the photographer, the retoucher: we are all tasked with making you look your best. The difference is that the retoucher’s work happens after the headshot’s been taken. If lipstick and lighting are considered fair, so is retouching.

Do some retouchers use heavy tactics? Of course. And in many fields, this is permissible. Making a person’s face look perfectly porcelain smooth (usually people mean exactly this when they mistake retouching for “airbrushing”), removing any permanent features or scars, or changing a person’s body shape are common in fashion and modeling, even if they are at times unrealistic.
But in Hollywood, the acting industry looks down on people who falsify their headshots. If you don’t look like the person in the picture, you’ve hurt your chances. A tastefully retouched, honest headshot always helps.

That’s why Motive’s comprehensive Pro Standard retouching covers a wide array of the most common retouching services, including blemish removal, eye and under-eye enhancement, line softening, skin tone evening, teeth whitening, color correction and enhancement, and minor flyaway taming. And for those occasions where more work is appropriate, we offer our Custom Retouch service.

Retouching is what you want it to be. Less, more, honest, fantastical—the headshots are yours, and you have to consider your career trajectory. At Motive Retouching, we feel the decision is best made by the client after knowing our views on natural retouching and how seriously we take our craft and art form.


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