Skin Retouching (How to Manage Client Expectations)

Managing Skin Retouch Expecations for Photography Clients

Skin Retouching

(Managing Photography Client Expectations)

An all-too-common situation with clients involves skin retouching in post-processing.  As photographers, we each have our own comfort level when it comes to how much editing we will perform on skin - whether it's just a tiny bit to smooth things out, or a full on Vogue style airbrushing.

The amount of skin retouching you perform will also depend on your client, obviously - if you are a fashion photographer, skin retouching is par for the course!

But what about portrait photographers like YOU, who take photos of every day people and their families?
  • How much retouching should you offer?
  • When a client asks for more retouching than you feel comfortable with, or have the time for, how do you approach the situation?

Lightroom Portrait Brushes

There are so many things to consider in these situations, but here are a few key tips that many successful photographers use to manage their client's expectations regarding skin retouching:

1. Communicate with Your Client

Subtly conveying to your client the level of retouching you are willing perform will go a very long way. Though you probably shouldn't bring it up right away unless the client does.  I find its better to let my clients bring it up in conversation and be prepared with my response.

Also, having a section in your contract about post-processing is very helpful for both you and your client.

  • For example, you could expressly state that any additional post-processing requests will be billed at an additional hourly rate.
  • Or you could state that basic skin adjustments are included in your pricing, but when it comes to things like altering the shape of someone's face, you have the option to either say "No, I don't do that" or you can meet their request at an additional fee.

2. Don't Take It Personally

It is difficult to hear someone say that they are unhappy with a certain element of a photo when we work so hard at what we do, but keep in mind that, when it comes to a client requesting extensive skin retouching, this has more to do with the CLIENT'S NEEDS than it does YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS.

Sure, there are ways that you can pose and light your client to make them look their best, but sometimes, they won't be quite satisfied until everything they perceive as an imperfection is banished from existence.

Do your best to understand where they are coming from, and then educate them.

3. Educating Your Client

The majority of people who have never used editing software think that we can just press a button or two and they will have flawless skin (thanks, Hollywood).

Gently and briefly inform your client that, when making adjustments to skin, you will need to individually edit every single photo, which is time consuming.

Most clients will be satisfied with a handful of images that have been retouched. But if you have a client who insists you retouch EVERY SINGLE IMAGE, you should probably consider charging for additional editing time. Your time is valuable, and all of that extra retouching will take time away from your other endeavors.

4. Maintain the Relationship

At the end of the day, you want your client to be happy, right? Of course you do!

Working with them on skin retouching can be a challenge, but it can also a way to make them extremely happy!

Your goal is to not only find a happy medium between satisfying your client and not spending too many hours in front of your computer on behalf of their needs, but also to decide how much skin retouching you should (and want) to be doing overall.

5. Retouch Tools for Photoshop & Lightroom

When I retouch in post processing, I have found some fantastic tools that save A LOT of time and dramatically speeds up my workflow.

In Photoshop, I use the Retouch & Makeup Collection from Pretty Presets & Actions.  I use the comprehensive retouch tools included in this set ALL THE TIME when retouching portraits.

From natural skin smoothing options to professional level retouch using frequency separation techniques, this collection has it all. The Retouch & Makeup Collection also includes easy to use actions that will enhance skin, eyes, teeth, hair, lips, cheeks and so much more!  It even includes an eyelash applicator and gorgeous "FALSE EYELASHES" that are so easy to brush on!  Your clients will LOVE IT!!

Retouch Photoshop Actions

If you prefer to do all of your editing in Lightroom, the Perfect Portrait Retouch & Makeup Brushes from Pretty Presets are a must have!  This set includes 40 indispensable portrait brushes for Lightroom that will help save you so much time editing skin, eyes, teeth, hair, lips, color casts & more!

Lightroom Portrait Brushes

Do you have any questions or comments about Client Expectations for Skin Retouching?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!