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  • Writer's pictureMichael Spatola

Photoshop: How Much Is Too Much?

see the bottom gif for a before and after example of this image

boudoir sells a fantasy- Not the fantasy of looking like someone else, but of you looking like you, on your absolute best day. This is done with a combination of professionally applied makeup, great lighting to sculpt the face and figure, flattering poses that put all the curves in the right places, a connection with a photographer that makes you feel comfortable, and finally the right amount of photoshop.

In this new age of “selfies”, apps like Beauty Cam and Facetune can go to an extreme- making women look nothing like their real self. I mean, if they used it for a dating site, 9 times out of 10, their blind date will not recognize them when they finally meet in person.

Professional skin softening programs like Portraiture is popular among many photographers- even some of the most well known. It’s a one-click option that works fine if you already have reasonably good skin, but if over applied, makes you look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. We see this effect mostly with new photographers that haven’t yet mastered Photoshop.

Many non-photographers use photoshop, but the results are usually obvious and overdone. So few take the time to learn to use the program to make the changes perfect and imperceptible.

In my studio, I use much higher-end retouching techniques in my work. I call it magazine style retouching (it's really called Frequency Separation). This is a non-destructive, almost pixel-level retouching that is time consuming and exact, but worth the extra effort. Every image I created has some level of retouching. But never is it a simple one-click app. When people look even ultra closely at the photos, they wonder how the skin looks so perfect, yet retains the pore texture. See the GIF below.

The Before/After GIF shows in closeup how an image should be retouched to remove blemishes, yet retain all the pore texture. This technique is called "Frequency Separation"

A tool within Photoshop that is popular but grossly over-used is the Liquify tool. Liquify can literally do magic, (in the right hands), and look ridiculous when done poorly. The example below is an extremely use of liquify. She is obviously beautiful. There is really no good reason to go to the extreme shown here. No one in their right mind will believe this is not a retouched image of this young lady.

This image was not taken, or retouched by me. It was simply found through a Google search

The next GIF shows how, when properly applied, Liquify can realistically shrink bumps and bulges without looking overdone. Sometimes, even in a great pose, the body twists and compresses and does weird things. In the follow image of the lovely Jade, you can see in the pose how the tricep area her upper arm was bulging (all her weight was supported by her arms), making her upper arm look a bit masculine. By reducing that to her actual normal arm width we achieve a more flattering, feminine arm. With this pose, you can also see that her waist was compressed, adding rolls that she simply doesn't have in normal everyday life. Liquify can help to reduce those.

Notice how Liquify helped the upper arm, tummy, breast, waist and hip areas, making this a much more polished image, but still looks exactly like the subject.

When researching your photographer, take a good close look at the images. If they look too blown out, or lack skin pore detail, chances are the photoshop is overdone. Like all of my blog posts, I hope you find this info helpful in your search for the right boudoir photographer for you.

* Unless otherwise noted, all images are by the author.

"He didn't over edit the photos. Mike was able to get rid of a breakout that I had on my cheek (of course my face gets a zit the same day as the shoot) and it didnt look like it was photoshopped. My skin still looked like skin." Lisa Roberge, Los Angeles

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