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Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A

Lesson 33 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A

Lesson 33 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

33. Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A

We do have a question that was whether you do any kind of hair retouch since this first round was just a quick retouch. Or does it matter before you send them to the clients on that quick retouch that you just talked about? Yeah, I don't do anything specific. The image doesn't even get opened in Photoshop if the client's gonna see it. It just goes through Camera Raw or Lightroom or whatever you're using to do your raw processing. I don't do anything other than that. For this type of delivery. Now, if I have in my portrait business, it could be a totally different thing. Let's say if you're gonna show your client 20 images and you're gonna fully retouch them knowing that you're gonna sell them X product or Y product, then that's fine. But this is a professional headshot. And the way that I run my business is there's no benefit for me to go and retouch every single image especially if, a lot of times, I'm showing the clients. If there's a ten-person shoot, I could be showing the client...

200 images. And I'm not gonna go through and retouch 200 images. And I'm not gonna pay someone else to retouch 200 images. I'm gonna get as close as I can to the way I want it to look when I take the picture. Then I'm going to leverage the retouching as something that I sell. That's the product that I sell is my retouching. Does that make sense? So, I take really crappy pictures and tell them I'll make them look good (laughter) if they pay me. So, what size of images are you delivering? 8 x 10's, squares? Good question. It all depends on their intended use. What size? Most of the time, if they need a full res version for some kind of print, I deliver it like 8 x 12, 300 dpi. You can actually build your price structure based on the resolution of the images. You could charge more for higher resolution. That could be a really good way to sell stuff. I know photographers that do that. You could give a medium resolution. One of the things you can do to provide better service to your clients, and you can create actions to do this for you, is when they look at your pricing and you say, "Here's what you get" semicolon or colon. "Here's what you get", colon, you get a full res retouched image. You get a medium res retouched image. You get a full res black and white. You get a medium PNG. You can list all the different file types you give them, and it looks like you're giving them a lot of different stuff. And that is useful cause you're gonna give one that's perfectly sized for LinkedIn, one that's perfectly sized and sharpened for Facebook. You know what I mean? You could provide different file formats as adding to your service, to your client. And that's something that you can just create an action to do that's really cool. So, you've just got to determine what the final usage of the image is gonna be. You could make that part of your business model to deliver different file sizes and resolution and stuff. Which I think is really smart because a lot of us think that other people have, in companies or what have you, have people that know how to make those images ready for whatever the use is. But if you can provide that to them ... Not everybody has that. Right. Especially, the smaller businesses. So, it's a great add on. Really, really cool thing that you could do for your clients is to make sure that you give them ... Here's the other thing, you wanna protect the way your images look. And I don't know if you've been on Facebook lately, but Facebook makes your images look like butt. No offense Facebook. What is it about Facebook? So, I've sort of figured out a way to make them look as best as they can from my experimentation and YouTube Wikipedia research. I found that with PNG format is better for Facebook. Even though it converts them to a JPG immediately. I don't know why, for whatever reason if you save it, use the save for web function in Photoshop. Let me show you that. You can take an image ... Let's open up this one. And I will show hair retouching just in case cause this is something that you deal with a lot with the ladies. I'll just do a quick fly away hair retouch. (hums) I'll just open up that. And then I'll show you how I prep an image real quick for Facebook. And then we're gonna go on to the extraction which is really why we're all here. Okay, cool. Okay, so again, I use my old buddy the Clone Stamp. The Clone Stamp right here. And blending modes are key. Look at the background and look at her hair. What is darker? The background or her hair? Her hair, right? So, if I just want to affect just her follicles of hair that are lighter than the background and make it look a lot less like I've been in there, I'm going to use the Lighten blend mode of the Clone Stamp brush. On about maybe 80, 90%. With a large, soft brush, and you take a sample from nearby, right here, and then let's zoom in on that even more so we can see what we're doing. See how sharp that is? Dang man. That guy's good. All right. And see, it's really just gonna affect those darker follicles when I'm using that Lighten blend mode. I'm gonna get around there. Oh, can't use that layer cause it's locked. See what I mean? Just like so. And it's not really affecting the blue behind it cause the blue that's there is the exact same color blue I'm selecting from. So, you're really only reducing those hair follicles rather than changing the background color. If you were to use a Clone Stamp tool on Normal for example at a percentage, then I were to do that exact same thing, you're gonna get a totally different effect where it's gonna take kind of the whole thing away. See where it's sort of affecting more than I want it to? Now I can see where I've been. So, that's why I use Darken cause it's only gonna affect, or Lighten, sorry, it's only gonna affect the areas that are actually darker than what I selected from. So, boom. And that's really cool. Now, that being said, depending on what the background is a lot of times, I'm shooting with this super, out of focusy, just neutral color background, like so. And then, in that case, you can really be a lot more liberal with that Clone Stamp tool when you're fixing hair follicles. But sometimes you've got detail in the background. You need to be real sensitive to that. In that case, it takes a little bit longer, but I use the Clone Stamp tool on a Normal blend mode and I do smaller areas at a time. But if you're having trouble making it look realistic, zoom in more, go smaller. Do a little bit at a time. It's when people get impatient and they take a big brush and they try to do a large area in one stroke that you start to see a mistake. And you'll get fast enough at it that you'll just go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And I know somebody out there has a way, way smarter way of doing this. The smartest way of doing this is paying somebody $3. to retouch the whole dang thing for you and so that you can spend your afternoon with your feet up throwing your Frisbee to your dog or something instead of doing this. There are certain photographers, especially, when they start out in the industry that are like, "No, I have to retouch it. Has to be my vision. Must be the way that I do it." And that's fine. You're gonna get over that real quick if you become busy photographer. Questions? Yeah, just from John Nemo who says, "So, tell us again, when do you decide to retouch yourself versus send them to retouch, for example." It's all about volume. If I've got 25 images to retouch, I send them out. If I've got one or two, I do it myself. <v Man #1>So, before we get on extraction, one question on the History brush is always compared to your original right? I mean, your painting back ... You can actually select. Let's look at that. You can select which part of the history state you wanna paint back to by moving this little History brush icon to whatever layer that you want to, and that's what the History brush will paint back to. So, I typically keep it on the beginning. Cause I really don't do much to these images. If you do an overall change, let's say example for levels, something like you're gonna change the levels which is gonna darken or lighten the whole image. When you paint through the History brush back to the beginning before you did the levels adjustment, it's gonna adjust past that to bright again or dark again, whatever you were working with. So, those global adjustments of the image I will typically leave to the end. I go in and I do the blemish removal, the bags under the eyes, the yellow parts of the eyes, and the specular highlights. I do all that stuff first, and then at the end I tone the image. That way the History brush I don't even have to think about it. So, that's sort of the routine I get into when I edit the images. Does that make sense? Okay, cool. <v Woman #1>I just have a question about your delivery process. For example, right now when I have clients come in they usually choose their final image before they leave. But when you're dealing with a company, a large company, could you just really quickly go over how you deliver them? Cause you're saying that you send them a lightly retouched file, then they make their choices, and then you do the retouching? Right. That's a great question. Sometimes we can ... I charge extra for same day selection cause that means I gotta take the images, I gotta process them. Cause no matter what, no matter how close I get, I'm not comfortable showing the image to the client in a large format. Like, on the back of the camera, you can't really tell. If I'm gonna show it to them on a tablet or a laptop or a big computer screen or even my sales screen in my sales room, that's gonna be where they're gonna see it big and blown up. So, those have to get raw processed. I don't do any actual individual pixel manipulation, just global adjustments for those Camera Raw images. Getting the color balance right, and making sure that the exposure and the shadow and highlights are all in check. So, I do charge extra. They can sit and wait ten minutes. I'll run, I'll go through the images, and they can leave picking them right there. And I'm cool with that but I charge extra for that. Now, that being said, if I work for a large company and I do a big job, again, I charge extra for onsite selection so that there's no gallery. If they're paying me for a certain amount of time and to get the images it only adds an extra step to put a gallery's phase in there where they're gonna go online somewhere and view it. So, they actually will choose the image right at that moment. Now, if they don't pay for that, I do put up an online gallery. And when I do that there are plenty of options out there. There's Infolio and Collages and however. I actually use the output module in Adobe Bridge. Which is, the new version of Creative Cloud they actually took it out, but you can download it again, and put it back in. So, it's just an extra step. But there's an output module you can create a web gallery. And Lightroom has it built in in spades. It's already there. You just go to the output, and you can create a web gallery in ten seconds of your whole photo shoot. You don't have to convert them to smaller. You don't have to do anything. It takes those raw files and makes a gallery, and you can output it. And then I use an FTP program, which is basically a program that you use to upload things to websites, it's a File Transfer Protocol, to upload it to my site. So, my client galleries will be like slash whatever the client's name is or whatever I designate. And the I send them that link, and then they go there, they view it, and they send me what image numbers that they have selected for me to retouch. And then I retouch those. And I will either deliver them by Dropbox, ShareFile, whatever they prefer to use. Or sometimes, if it's a large company, they have their own file transfer system. And I have several clients that have their own because of data and internet security issues, I have to use their internal company's file transfer protocol to get the final images to them. And if it becomes really difficult, I'll just drop a disc by on my way home from work or something. Or I'll put a DVD or Blu-ray in the mail. Or a thumb drive, whatever they prefer.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

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