I'm new on the RetouchPRO site.... even though I first signed up 11 months ago. Unfortunately I don't have as much time to spend on the site as I would like, but hope to be spending more. I'm a photographer and I do all of my own retouching and have for years. I'm pretty much self taught in Photoshop. I used to do print retouching back in the days when you used dyes and pencils and pastels. I have surely breathed in enough retouching lacquer spray to shorten my life at least 10 years.... I'm already pretty old, so I'm hoping those lost days don't hit me for a few years yet to come. ;-)
In most cases my main subjects are photos of women and the objective is to correct any major problem areas and come up with a final image that looks better than real life, striking, but still lets the real person come through. My wife is a great makeup artist, so in most cases I benefit from her work before I ever begin working the images. We do a lot of glamor work and I like a natural look and warm skin tones and try to look for places where I can lift the face and brighten or enhance the expression. I also go through the image removing or softening of all of those little things that real life doesn't usually see, but that viewers of photographs tend to dwell on... We do a lot of nudes (which I understand are not allowed on the site) so besides the wrinkles and blemishes, I do eyelifts, fix sagging necks, remove cellulite, remove scars and tattoos, add hair, remove hair, smooth knuckles, reshape noses, swap out eyes, mouths, lengthen fingers, legs, thin what needs thinning and enlarge what needs to be bigger all the time in creating "natural" looks and centerfold-worthy bodies. I also like to play around and "get creative" when I have the time. I love doing it, and wish I had more time to spend. I have my way of doing all these things but I am sure there are better techniques that I have yet to discover.
I found that in my earliest digital retouching I tended to always over-work my images... I often still do and have to fight it all the time... but I am getting better. Having all the wonderful tools available to us in this digital age makes it hard to resist, over enhancing, over smoothing, and over correcting. It is so easy to do! However. unless I am looking for some kind of special effect, I try to stay away from over-brightening the eyes, over smoothing of the skin or over enhancing the colors... it is so easy to go to far. I use those filters -- that give everyone that "polished, over-the-top" look -- very sparingly. I work mainly with clone, heal, selection and curves. Just because we have the tools and it is easy to do, doesn't mean we have to use them. I think excessive sharpening ruins many otherwise good images.
I am looking to do more compositing and montage work and look forward to, learning the tchniques and trading ideas, tips and tricks with others on the board here.