Photographer’s notes for professional headshot retouching


Retouching is the post-process enhancement of a photo after basic editing. That is anything beyond color balance, exposure, and global stylistic choices.

My portrait and headshot retouching philosophy

Retouching is an essential part in my headshot and portrait photography workflow. Main goal behind it is to give my client a more polished image that they can be proud of.

When retouching, my goal is to keep subject to look like their natural self on your best day.

Generally, I prefer my clients to look as organic as possible. Therefore my basic retouching is usually a little nudge rather than elaborate retouching process.

Normally, I ask people to express their requests or concerns during the photoshoot. This allows me to customize my basic headshot retouching workflow later.

Example of unedited and un-retouched headshotbasic headshot retouching example

Un-edited (left) vs basic retouched (right) professional actor’s headshot. Basic retouching took care of small blemishes and redness around the eyes.

Professional studio headshot of an attorney

Un-retouched (left) vs basic retouched and color corrected (right) professional business headshot. Basic retouching fixed some redness in face and darkened suit slighly.

What is included in basic headshot retouching?

While there is some fluctuation depending on the person and their specific needs, my basic retouching process addresses:

Skin tone and color

  • Boost color in pale skin
  • Balance dark/bright areas and skin color


  • Removal of temporary things such as blemishes, pimples or small cuts
  • Softening of some permanent items


  • Removal of minor debris like stray hairs, dandruff, lint fuzz*
closeup headshot of food flavoristcloseup headshot of food flavorist

Un-retouched (left) vs basic retouched and color corrected (right) professional business headshot. During basic headshot retouching skin around the eyes was slightly lightened.


  • Ease and lighten fine lines, and dark circles around the eyes
  • Overall brighten the eyes and catchlights


  • Mildly lighten and lessen yellowing when needed

*Basic retouch does not include wrinkles and dirty clothes retouching. It is important to check wear well-fitting clothes and check for debris beforehand.

Keep in mind, the more retouching that needs to be done, the more likely the photo will have an “overly photoshopped” look. Therefore, it’s crucial to take care of yourself before the shoot to ensure you are picture ready. I go into detail on how to prepare for your portrait or headshot photo session here.


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