Before & After: Retouching Exposed – Chelsey

Time for another B and A! 🙂 Just some back story, I have been working on my portfolio pretty heavily since the beginning of the year. I am preparing to graduate college and jump into the real world of fashion photography. So with that comes LOTS and LOTS of editing!

For this image I was trying to create a run of the mill “beauty” shot featuring an emphasis on the lips and eyes. The model I chose to use has a fabulous jaw line that is almost a little masculine. I wanted a face structure that would really stand out and require little editing.


I loved these images because of the unique structure of the model’s face. She has a very defined nice and jaw structure. The only emphasis is put mainly on the lips allowing the eyes to settle on just one thing.


The lighting setup is rather simple. I needed bright highlights basically over the face and to have very little contrast in the shadows the come from it. I also knew that I needed a neutral white background so the emphasis can stay on her face. To accomplish this I set up a white muslin backdrop with a strobe behind it to make the backdrop super white. For the face I set up a beauty dish connected to a strobe with double diffusion in order to get softer lighting. Underneath the models face I put a huge silver reflector to bring back light under her chinned lessen the shadows even more.


I was really happy with the image when I first saw it. The structure of her jaw was great, the position of her face was what I wanted and her expression was exactly what I was looking for. However, this being a beauty image, I knew I had lots of work to do.

When I first loaded the image into Photoshop I started right away with highlighting all of the things that needed to be fixed. Her hair was my biggest concern. I didn’t want the bun or all of the fly aways and I didn’t want all of the hair by her ear. The image needed to be sharp, clean, and smooth. Her hands were also an issue for me. I wanted to make sure they were clean, retouched, smooth, and the same color as her face.

Now keep in mind I was going for a perfect image. I wanted to create almost unrealistic beauty with this image. I knew what I wanted in my head and I was going to try to recreate that look. I did A LOT of photoshop work to her, but most of it was with her hair and smoothing out the skin.


This isn’t a perfect image by any means. Even now after “finishing” the image there are plenty of things I would have like to do differently, but there comes a point where you need to be happy with your image and just let it be.

As you can tell, this image is highly retouched and perfected. However to me it looks like a beauty shot. I used two separate methods for retouching. One is a method I have discussed before from RetutPro. I used their basic guidelines to edit this with my own little twist. I don’t really follow their same steps anymore, but I use a lot of their methods. The second method I used was Emily Soto’s Fashion Action “FashionSkin”. I recently reviewed it and I think it did an amazing job at retouching the models skin tone and smoothness.

I am proud of the image for two reasons, 1. it looks beautiful, and 2. it really shows just how much I can accomplish with photoshop. It takes a lot of work and it isn’t easy to retouch these images and this is only my second time doing a “beauty” shot to this extent.


As always I would love to know what you guys think of the image. I know that not everyone is going to like this image and some will potentially be offended by just how much work I did to change it. BUT regardless I would love to hear your opinion. Likes, dislikes, and constructive criticism are always welcome!

For more of my work please visit my website at or my fashion portfolio at!

Until next time, live your dreams and may passion never die!