The corporate headshot – for men

“To photoshop or not to photoshop… that is the question.”
The topic of image editing is a polarizing issue, to say the least. Very recently, a middle school student petitioned Seventeen magazine so that they would print one un-photoshopped image in each of its issues. Seventeen obliged and will honor the young girl’s request (I believe the 84,000 petition signatures may have helped just a bit).

Image editing, and specifically how much manipulation I do to an image once it’s been shot, is a common topic of conversation at my studio. The fact is, I strongly encourage the conversation. Every time I do a Portrait Couture photo shoot, I ask my client what their specific view is on the usage of Photoshop and other image editing tools. I have yet to encounter a client who feels a strong emotional connection to the lines on their forehead… or, the puppet lines by their mouths. My goal is not to remove the lines on a person’s face, because then they will not look like themselves. My goal may be to soften any lines, remove shadows underneath those lines (because that is truly what makes the lines look deeper), and, in the case of women, blend the makeup that was done by my professional stylist to make it look as smooth and continuous, as possible.

All that being said, with every photo shoot I do my goal is to spend no more than two (2) minutes editing any single image. That’s right, only two minutes! In my earlier days as a photographer, I could easily spend 45 minutes editing a single image of a person. Boy, I do not miss those days.

As for editing men’s photos, well that is an entirely different conversation. I spend much less time editing men’s pictures than I do women’s pictures. I believe the lines on a man’s face are what gives him character. With regards to other blemishes, here is my rule of thumb – if it’s not going to be there in two weeks, then get rid of it. The only exception to this rule is sun spots or age spots. Those have to go, as well. Sorry, sun spots.

Let’s take a look at this picture of Doug. I recently shot Doug’s corporate headshot. I did just enough editing to his face to make sure he still looks like Doug… at his current age (very important), but I also softened some lines, removed a bit of redness in his eyes, and did some light dodging and burning to the eyes themselves to make them “pop”.

Other than that, besides adding my own little creative touches like a bit of cyan enhancement and adding a bit of grain (my personal style), I did not do any other editing to Doug’s picture. I believe it came out pretty nice. And what really matters is that Doug looks like Doug and he loves his pictures!

As an aside, I like Doug’s outfit choice, too. We did the obligatory shots of him in a jacket and tie, etc. But, in my opinion this image and outfit choice has a bit more of a contemporary feel to it, without looking too trendy. It also speaks well to his personality as a very intelligent and friendly guy with a great sense of humor.
What are your personal thoughts on Photoshop? Good for ya’? Or, do you like to be “au natural” in your pictures?