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  • Writer's pictureDean Birinyi

Magazine Cover Quality Headshot Retouching

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Photography has always been a three-step process: preparation, execution, and finishing.

  1. Preparation is to be well-rested and well-dressed.

  2. Execution is my job. I’m responsible for making people look good by helping them express themselves authentically.

  3. Finishing, Retouching in the case of company headshots adds the final polish to an already good image.

Above, you can see the same headshot in its unretouched state, with budget retouching and my standard retouching. The difference is remarkable.

Everyone wants to look their best in their company headshots.

We are emotionally invested in how we look, and we should be. I respect the value of my customer's images as much, and sometimes more than they do.

To give your co-workers and executives the best experience, I have a team of talented artists do my retouching. These men and women are experts in the art and science of digital retouching. They make people look healthy and well-rested by smoothing out your complexion, removing blemishes, and softening the effect of smile lines while retaining the natural texture of your skin.

I’m often asked if we can skip the retouching. This is how I explain why that’s not the best idea and what the benefits are.

Smile lines show confidence and character.

Everyone over the age of 16 has lines on their faces and bags under their eyes. As we gain experience, these lines become more prominent. It’s a natural effect of the flexibility of our skin and is not something to be self-conscious about.

I tell people that there isn’t a line on my face that I haven’t earned. They show my character and prove that I have the wisdom that comes from experience to share. Removing these visual communications of our experience and wisdom communicates a lack of self-confidence. So, my team doesn’t remove smile lines. They minimize their effect.

Hand-crafted retouching for magazine cover quality headshots

In executive headshots, whether for men’s or women’s headshots, our goal is to remove imperfections while retaining the character and personality of the person’s features. We won’t remove lines that would be inauthentic and show a lack of confidence. Instead, we soften the contrast of our facial lines so they aren’t prominent or distracting.

My team of retouchers approaches each photograph differently. Their craftsmanship is evident in the quality of the final images.

They don’t use filters or software that can make a person look like they’re made of plastic. They address each blemish, line, or eye bag individually, applying their creativity and dedication to the art of retouching to give each of my customers the best quality images they can.

Of course, there is a cost involved. When working with a company on their headshots, we have to balance the cost and benefit of each service provided. And this is why I offer two levels of finishing.

  • Budget finishing makes everyone look better than they imagined they could. This is the least time-consuming method I use and the most cost-effective. It requires about 20 - 25 minutes per photo. I recommend this service when we’re photographing key employees or general staff.

  • Advanced retouching can perform miracles, and this is the service I recommend for Founders, C-suite Executives, and Board Member headshots. My retouchers will go over each photograph almost pixel by pixel, smoothing out all the little imperfections we all have in a seamless and totally transparent manner. They’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour on each photo. The result is headshots that show my customer in the best possible light, well-rested, and on their best day.

Whether you decide to use standard or advanced retouching, your co-workers and executives are going to love their new headshots. And they have you to thank for them.


UPDATE: I've been asked to forego retouching in the interest of budget. I won't release unretouched images.

Dean Birinyi, founder and owner of Silicon Valley Headshots, is an award-winning photographer. He specializes in showcasing professionals as confident, approachable individuals ready for the next opportunity.

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