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Actor Retouching

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  • Actor Retouching

    Does anyone have any tips for retouching actor headshots? I've been told to keep it "real" as the casting agents aren't really looking for "glamor shots" as much as they are looking for that the actor really looks like.

    Kent
    [email protected]

  • #2
    Re: Actor Retouching

    Well the reality is that everyone expects color shots now. If you're working with a client that is still doing B&W, strongly suggest they get color. With digital now, it's really no more expensive than B&W and you can always convert to that from color.

    And if they can transfer a straight from the camera digital to you (RAW if possible), all the better. Most headshot photographers aren't terribly interested in what you do with the picture after the fact. They've been paid for their services and usually don't expect further consideration. They may cap the limit of images they send as part of the purchase package, but if possible you should get the rawest version of a shot you can. Some photographers will try to do their own retouching first. BEG THEM, PLEADE WITH THEM to just leave it alone. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to retouch someone else's bad retouch.

    The shot itself should be age appropriate, as should the retouch. A young actor/actress shouldn't be overly made up, nor should an older actor/actress be so heavily retouched to appear significantly younger. They want to come across in as neutral a way to allow those seeing the picture to imagine them in as many kinds of roles as possible. Clear and simple is the key. HOWEVER, a headshot should reflect the age/character range an actor/actress can convincingly play. Some actors "read" (appear) either younger or older than their true age and the retouch should reflect that.

    The trend now is natural setting backgrounds here in New York. You just happened to be posed sitting in a gritty yet picturesque alleyway when a professional photographer popped out from behind a garbage can to snap your picture. Whatever. But keeping that in mind, the retouch should also be appropriate to the setting. Shy away from overly dramatic, overly sexy and stylized shots unless it's for modeling work. Smooth as silk skin clashes with a grainy, deconstructed setting for example. Clothing and setting in general should be retouched to be as neutral as possible. Desaturate the background some, neutralize clothing colors, use some creative lens blurring, but overall the focus should be on the actor and not the background or what they're wearing. Also remove noticeable jewelry and accessories.

    Overall though, make sure to keep the retouch as natural and unnoticeable as possible. Overly perfected skin, vibrant oversaturated eyes, excessive body slimming etc, may work for the beauty pageant set but these actors and actresses are usually meeting people who cast them face-to-face. There shouldn't be a big discrepancy between them and their photo or it will be noticed and make a difference.

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    • #3
      Re: Actor Retouching

      Excellent advice, madclark!

      Agreed with everything said.
      It is very different from glamour work, the wrinkle / blemish / spot that would be the first thing you would, normally, take out - just might be the touch of character that they are looking for.
      They don't (necessarily) want a good-looking actor, they want the one that is right for the part.

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      • #4
        Re: Actor Retouching

        I would visit some actors homepages...and see how they are done! some of the picture they have there is from their audition portfolio...

        Gerry

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        • #5
          Re: Actor Retouching

          Only remove/fix non-permanent blemishes and photographer errors.
          eg. spots (unless they're a really spotty teenager - in that case you might want to check with the agent - could be that they want to keep the spots)
          Dodgy shadows
          Stray hairs
          uneven/bad/smudged makeup
          Poor Focus
          Colour Balance - if its a colour shot.

          Dont get rid of anything that couldnt be realistically be covered with makeup or better lighting.

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          • #6
            Re: Actor Retouching

            Oh Nancy brings up a good point re makeup. Sometimes actors and photographers hire makeup artists who don't know how to prep them for these kinds of shots. They slap the pancake on like they're auditioning for Ringling Brothers. It's applied too thick making their skin tone flat and highlights pores. Do what you can to make it look natural if the makeup stands out.

            Also, slight disagreement re color balance. Sometimes the shot is intended to have a color cast, a blue or amber yellow overtone, similar to what you see in so many tv shows and movies these days. Especially for those actors developing a more edgy look, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I would only rebalance the color cast if it is overly saturated or isn't an attractive color.

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            • #7
              Re: Actor Retouching

              Thanks for everyone's input on this. I do appreciate the many different points of view and ideas. Wish me luck.

              Kent

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              • #8
                Re: Actor Retouching

                Just curious Kent, but what part of the country are you in?

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                • #9
                  Re: Actor Retouching

                  Thanks to the folks who contributed to my project. I ended up using Scott Kelby's "Photoshop CS2 for Digital Photographers" which contained some great tips for whitening eyes, smoothing skin and overall enhancement of the image.

                  Thanks again,
                  Kent McCallister
                  homepage.mac.com/kentmcc

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                  • #10
                    Re: Actor Retouching

                    I do retouching for head shots, I give them that J-Lo Glow, I do charge however.

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