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News & Insight

A Quick Hit Of Insight On Beauty Retouching Workflow & Practices

By Kishore Sawh on April 4th 2016

Retouching an image is such a strange thing to conceptualize because it’s so varied and everyone thinks of it a little differently. It’s not like, say, speed, that we can conceptualize with metrics of ‘miles and hour’, it’s much more opaque than that. Really, you have to start trying your hand at it and watching people do it to get a good grasp, and a good grasp of it is something you certainly need today, since if you don’t, well, we all can tell.

Because it really is more art than science, there’s nothing quite like watching a professional go through their workflow and pick up on some of their practices. Paying attention to them you’ll be able to see the more nuanced sides to retouching, and get a sense for the levels of nuance itself. You can also pick up on methods and practices that cut down on retouching time, generally speeding up the workflow; perhaps figure out a way to use frequency separation that will transform your work, or if you’re lucky, you’ll pick up the one tip that is like the last 1% of your puzzle that’s the most difficult to find.


In the video below by a.a.Productions, professional photographer and retoucher Beth Sternbaum gives a peek into her workflow, and due to its brevity (only about 4 minutes long), it’s a quick hit of info that provides some suggestions to solve problems many of you have been voicing you have. You’ll see how she splits her screen into two versions of the same image and sings its praises [I wrote about how to do this a while ago, and you can see it here]; Weighs in on the debate of frequency separation, and shows you how she treats details. It’s surprisingly informative. It’s also useful because I think it helps bring appreciation to subtlety.


However, some recent posts on retouching have generated some discussion, and it appears some in the practice of retouching can’t seem to arrive at a finished product that’s quite like what you’ve seen done or what you’d have liked, and it’s discouraging. This is totally understandable, and I fear that this video may have you doing the same, so I think it prudent to mention that unless your image is captured in a certain way you’re not going to have the same results, even using the same tools.

[REWIND: Frequency Separation Pitfalls To Avoid]

If you want crisp highlights to showcase texture you’ve really got to capture that in camera and that means thinking about it ahead of time during lighting set-up, and perhaps even before that in picking the subject and an MUA. This is a primary pitfall many have who can’t seem to get their retouching right – they’re just not shooting right. If you’re looking to do high-end beauty retouching, you’ll need a certain type of shooting, and you might find Julia Kuzmenko’s course of interest. She also has a host of free tutorials you can find here. It’s worth a look.

Check more about Beth on her site.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mia Sanders

    Really natural photos especially of young girls. Skins smoothening is on high level! Your techniques look like!

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