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Lesson 11 from: How to Photograph and Flatter Skin Tones

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

11. Retouching

Lesson Info


Retouching, there's a balance, and this is a beauty shoot I did, on the picture on the left, she still looks good with no retouching, but the picture on the middle, it just makes it a little bit more perfect. The picture on the right, that's when it's like oh crap, you just retouched the crap outta this person, which is all those dumb iPhone apps that people do, and I think it's super embarrassing when you apply these blur apps and then you post it, 'cause it draws more attention. I'm going, oh god, they must've looked so terrible before that they had to blur their face this much. Don't do it, that's terrible. But, retouching it's a bunch of things. It's how you smooth out highlights, and it's if the highlights are uneven, it's about getting rid of blemishes, and it's also improving the tone of the skin. So there's retouching here for sure, but it's not just blemish removal. But there's more to retouching to make the skin look good than let me get rid of pimples. And a lot of times it'...

s that exposure and that color and smoothing out highlights and all of that, localized dodging and burning, and frequency separation, so there's a lot of classes you can take here on Creative Live, some of them by me, that are about retouching the skin. And so when I retouch, I have this checklist. I remove the blemishes, I address wrinkles or rough skin, like do I just wanna tone 'em down, I don't get rid of 'em but I tone it down a little bit. I've got a bunch of different tools, but the whole key is moderation and what's the purpose of the photo, because if somebody is 85, you're not gonna try to make 'em look 40. You know, that's not the point of it. But maybe you're just trying to tone down a little bit of the depth to the shadows. You don't want the shadows to be so dark in the wrinkles. So they'll be there, but not as defined, not getting as much attention. So this comes with practice, which is why there's so many classes here at Creative Live and all of that, so that you can figure out how to retouch, and then use it appropriately. Usually people go too far in the beginning, and then you develop taste level and dial it back, and then you also learn when to not let your customers tell you that they wanna look 25 years younger, 'cause they still do that. So, alright, these are all the things that we talked about, and these are all things you have to consider. So just to summarize this, and then we're gonna shoot live, you gotta make sure you have your white balance, get your gray card. Mixed lighting, get 'em out of a mixed lighting situation. Color contamination, watch for bounce on walls, on floors, on shirt, on assistants, all of that. Shoot with RAW 16 bit RGB or ProPhoto RGB files. Color Management, make sure that you're actually doing a color profile on your monitor, and don't get a super cheap monitor. For exposure, be smarter than your camera, but pay attention to how exposure affects skin. Quality of light, soft is more flattering. Direction of light, flat shows less texture, but it's boring, so you gotta figure out the balance between those. Consider makeup because it saves you time in post, and makes it easier for lighting. And then retouching, kind of know how far to go to make skin look good. So, alright, so I have some time to do a little bit of demonstration.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Skin Tones Keynote

Ratings and Reviews

Amy Vaughn

The topic is too big to cover all the solutions in depth in such a short amount of time, but this seems like a great overview for beginners to understand the range of problems with making skin look good in photos. Lindsay does a great job of making her class topics easy to understand.

Frank Gutierrez

I just love Lindsay's work! It's so impressive; especially the sampling photos captured of the elderly gentleman. It brought all she taught throughout the video together seamlessly! I'm so going to watch this over and over again!


Great primer on skin tones, lighting, and considerations for different types of skin. One of the few teachers that discusses dark skin tones!

Student Work