When someone asks me to retouch them in Photoshop I usually am slow to respond – its wise to assess the situation to ascertain what exactly they want from you – it’s a sensitivity minefield. “Do you want me to remove your double chin?”, “Oh sorry, you didn’t think you had one”…. “Do you want me to take 20 years off?”, “Apoogies, I didn’t realize you were 27″….. “Your moustache?”, ” My bad, that must be a shadow from somewhere”….. “I could reduce the size of your nose?”, “Again sorry, that angle makes it look bigger than it is in reality”…… “Just make you look like a Model?, “Yeah the retouching on that will take me forever!, I charge by the hour so it will cost you a fortune”…..
Sometimes I get the impression the person is fishing for a compliment – “Sure you don’t need any airbrushing – you’re practically flawless!” in which case you do nothing to the image, maybe adjust some levels and hand the file back! The reality is – your aim is to make the person look their best – the image may have factors mitigating against this – unflattering light, no make-up, too much make-up badly applied, maybe the person has some spots that weren’t there yesterday etc….. The vast majority of women and a surprising amount of men use make-up every day to make themselves look at their best – to hide unflattering aspects of their appearance, whether permanent or temporary, (imagined or real – best not go there) and to accentuate their good side. Photoshop is there to do the same – apply virtual make up. As in the real wold equivalent it is easy to slap on the virtual make-up. Finding a happy medium is not always easy as how people view themselves is by its nature entirely subjective – you may consider that the wrinkles show character, they on the other may think it makes them look haggard and weary.
So my usual response is non-committal and non specific, along the lines of – “I don’t think there is much to be done, but I will have a look”… This I feel needs to be refined …. while you may know you have a lot of work to do to make them look at their best, in order to flatter your client you want them to believe you think you don’t , – an intentional collusion of self delusion if you will – how exactly do you get paid for that? Maybe the brutal truth is the way to go after all……
The image above is courtesy of Retouch Pro, below is my retouched version….