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Magazine Cover Quality Headshot Retouching

We all want to look good. Looking at our best helps us make good first impressions and feel good about ourselves. My customers value their professional image and want to look better than usual in their headshots, and I don’t blame them.

In today's online world, the first time most people see you are in your headshot. Headshots are everywhere, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, company websites, press releases, and book jackets. You can’t get away from them, and they’re becoming more important to our careers every day.

A professional retoucher applies their talent, skill, and expertise to artistically and invisibly enhance your image.

I value my customer's professional image as much as they do. This is why I send my customer's executive headshots out to be retouched by a team of talented, skilled, and experienced professionals. They can do a much better job of adding the final polish to my headshots than I ever could because that is what they do.

Long ago, I learned the secret of success is to find someone better at a job than I am and have them do it.

My makeup artist, Sarah, is fantastic at hair and makeup, color combinations, emphasizing, or deemphasizing people's features. I’m really good at messaging, helping people feel comfortable in front of the camera, and expressing themselves authentically.

Using our combined talents, skills, and experience, we create great professional headshots for both men and women. My retoucher, Pedro he adds the finishing touches that guarantee my customer's headshots stand out head and shoulders above the crowd. (See what I did there?)

Below are three examples that show the different levels of retouching.

The first is an unfinished image. I’ve done all I can with my lighting and processing to make it a great image. It’s a great image, and my customer loved it.

The second shows basic retouching. Here we removed stray hairs and blemishes, softened the contrast of his smile lines, and smoothed his complexion a bit. All of this is done by hand and requires approximately 25 minutes per photograph.

The final image shows my standard retouching. We did everything we did for the basic, but then got in and, using a very time-consuming technique, delicately smoothed his complexion by blending the lightness or darkness of his skin by hand to create a smooth, even appearance. This process requires the efforts and attention of a highly skilled artist for about 45 minutes to an hour.

The result is a professional headshot showing a happy, healthy, well-rested man in a good mood on his best day. We don’t want to remove lines, make you look like a plastic doll, or alter your appearance. We make you look great.

So that’s the basic rundown of why retouching is important and why I don’t do it myself.

Check out these articles on headshots to learn more:


Dean Birinyi is an award-winning photographer, founder, and owner of Professional Headshots Palo Alto. He specializes in expression coaching to guide his customers on presenting themselves as confident, approachable professionals ready for the next opportunity.

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