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The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three

It’s Only Natural

After saying all that (assuming you’ve read parts one and two), “So then, what’s the rub?”

Great question! The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three will address the answer. 

To begin, we need to revisit perspective, and how it directly affects both the client’s perceptions, as well as how the photographer might allay their concerns.

Firstly, people do NOT actually observe the facial features of those with whom they are speaking while in a conversation. There’s a host of reasons why. Probably most significantly the culprit, however, is their peripheral vision. It’s activated and busy taking in the surroundings. Subsequently, it does not take into account the detailed facial features of the person with whom they’re talking.

Because us humans do not normally examine the facial features of those we are in a conversation, such faces appear soft and imprecise. Thus, when we think of or recall the faces of our friends and associates, we imagine them with little detail. We see them being considerably more pleasant than they would actually look in a vanity mirror.

Makes sense. Right? It’s a reasonable perspective.

Conversely, when viewing a headshot portrait, the peripheral vision is disengaged. It’s no longer active. The EXACT OPPOSITE perspective then occurs. Suddenly, every line, blemish, and wrinkle becomes a glaring beacon of distraction.

So then, since the faces we see in person (soft/imprecise) are vastly different from the facial features we do observe in a photograph (harsh/detailed), which facial features are natural and which are unnatural?

I would argue that a headshot portrait without the greatest degree of retouching is vastly more unnatural that one where retouching has been superbly and artistically applied.

The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three | It's Only Natural by Mark Jordan Photography
The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three: Reality on Left, which we really don’t see “Conversationally.” Pro Retouching on Right, which is how we most likely think of him, yielding a natural, fresh look. He’s someone I’d like to know and conduct business (Headshots Part Three).

The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three: “It’s Only Natural”

The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part One – PREVAILING PERSPECTIVE
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Two – THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
The Art of Retouching Headshots | Part Four – CONVERSATIONAL RETOUCHING

Think of a friend who you know well. Tell me, how long are their crows-feet? How deep and what color are their eye bags? What’s the uniformity of their complexion? Blemishes? Spider veins? Rosacea? How many, what size and color are the artifacts in their sclera (eye whites)? How about the color, shape, and characteristics of their irises?

I can go on and on asking about all sorts of details: necklines, double chins, facial shine, cracked/dry lips, teeth composition/color/spacing, ear shape/hairs, nose shape and nostril hairs, eyebrow shape/density. I could easily continue with one hundred and one facial details that you’d NEVER to think to observe or consider – that is UNTIL you see their facial features magnified in a photograph.

Not to mention, we have yet to touch upon another multitude of design distractions introduced by clothing, which is frequently unmanageable. Whether it be too loose or too tight (ties, jackets, shirts, blouses), or too small/large shirt collars, or misshaped clothing contours, all must be addressed by the educated eye of the Master retoucher.

Again, since we do not pay attention to, nor cite from memory, the exacting facial features of a close friend, what makes us believe that leaving a face in a headshot portrait “natural” is actually “natural”? If ANYTHING, such graphically exposed detail is ANYTHING BUT natural. That is unless you’re the sort who’s made it a lifelong pursuit of scrutinizing the facial features of those whom you love.

Not likely.

So ends The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three. Next up is Part Four, the “Conversational” quotient in creating natural headshots.

Should you have ANY questions regarding any aspect of The Art of Retouching Headshots Part Three, please know that no concern is too small.

Mark Jordan

Master of Photography
Photographic Craftsman
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
EPCOT Center World’s Greatest Photography Award
Family Portrait of Excellence & Dedication Award
International Loan Collection Award – 11 Time Recipient
Portrait Photographer of Excellence Award – America, Norway & Germany
Orange County Photographer of the Year
American Society of Photographers


Orange County Headshots Photographer, Mark Jordan, is internationally recognized, and serves all of Southern California, including San Diego County, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire.

For over three decades Orange County Headshots has served and created professional headshots for the cities of Aliso Viejo, CA | Anaheim, CA | Brea, CA | Buena Park, CA | Corona del Mar, CA | Costa Mesa, CA | Coto de Caza, CA | Cypress, CA | Dana Point, CA | Dove Canyon, CA | Fountain Valley, CA | Fullerton, CA | Garden Grove, CA | Foothill Ranch, CA | Huntington Beach, CA | Irvine, Ladera Ranch, CA | Laguna Beach, CA | Laguna Hills, CA | Laguna Niguel, CA | Laguna Woods, CA | Lake Forest, CA | Los Alamitos, CA | Mission Viejo, CA | Newport Beach, CA | Orange, Placentia, CA | Rancho Mission Viejo, CA | Rancho Santa Margarita, CA | Robinson Ranch, CA | San Clemente, CA | San Juan Capistrano, CA | Santa Ana, CA | Seal Beach, CA | Shady Canyon, CA | Trabuco Canyon, CA | Turtle Rock, CA | Tustin, CA | Tustin Ranch, CA | Villa Park, CA | Westminster, CA | Rancho Mission Viejo, CA | Yorba Linda, CA

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When looking for an Orange County Headshots Photographer, please call 949-713-4050 or complete our online request form.