Should You Touch Up Your Head Shot?
In the age of Photoshop and digital photography, this is the new yes-or-no question. The answer seems quite obvious – you have the technology, so of course you should use it! However, not everyone is in agreement. Here are a few pros and cons of using a photo editing program to enhance your image.
- Not everyone is photogenic; Photoshop helps the average person look his or her best.
- When it comes to a job, youth is often seen as an asset. An enhanced photo can help you get the interview – and then you can prove yourself.
- It’s just common sense to touch up blemishes, soften wrinkles, and lighten freckles – as long as the image is still recognizably you. After all, this is what properly applied makeup does.
- Our eyes and cameras see the world very differently. Photoshop applied with finesse will often correct what the camera sees more towards what the eye sees.
- Over photoshopping is seen as a lie; you’ve got to let your portrait tell your truth to be recognized as having integrity. That is, the final portrait should very much be recognizable as you.
- Whether the photo is for professional purposes or a dating site, they’ll see the real you sooner or later. While the photo can look like you at your best, it best look like you.
- Editing is tedious, takes considerable skill and is time consuming. Practioners lacking sufficiently high skills may make you look fake or worst.
Here is an example of an image that has been touched up. The untouched photo is on the right. The one on the left has been edited.
In the editing, we made the following changes to the image on the right:
- Adjusted the skin tone and contrast.
- Lightened the area under the eyes.
- Removed a few slight skin blemishes.
- Cleaned up stray hairs.
- Gently brightened eyes making them pop a bit more.
However, these things are largely unchanged:
- Freckles. If you have a lot of facial freckles, they are a part of you – removing them would mean a material change in your appearance. That is not a usual goal of photo editing.
- The eyes remained virtually untouched. This is where your personality shines through – too much light or change in the eyes may make a photo feel false. Less is usually more.
- The facial structure is untouched. Yes – you can ask your photographer to “take off a few pounds,” elongate your neck, or otherwise enhance the picture. These kinds of false changes may work against you if over done… Though, depending on your purpose, may subtly enhance a photo when done in moderation.
It’s your picture – you get the final say. Subtle photo editing, artfully applied, can serve to enhance your image and a qualified professional photographer at the top of their game will do an excellent job at it.