Portrait photography is often a tricky thing. You want to capture who the people you are photographing really are but you also want it to be a flattering portrayal. While watching 'The Grid Live' on Kelby TV (kelbytv.com) today I really began to think about this. One of the topics of the day was portrait retouching. It really raised a few more questions. They asked 'do you include portrait retouching in your packages or as an additional line item?', 'do you send unretouched photos to clients?', they even discussed some of the different methods and the criticism photographers recieve from other photographers and retouching pros who believe in a different method. This got me thinking even more about the clients. In the end, it's their image and if they are happy with the end result then we have done our job haven't we? We want to flatter the client but retain their true appearence but are there people who don't want retouching?
It was only a few years ago that Dove truely opened the publics eyes to exacty what retouching can do and what some media does with it. It was especially noticed in their video/commercial as part of the campaign for real beauty where they demonstrated the model in a photoshoot, the retouch process, and the final resulting image. It raises a question for me though. Are there people out there who think this is what happens to every photo taken by a professional? On the flips side of this, are there photographers out there that do this to every photo?
I cannot speak for such a vast community of photographers out there, however, I personally like to keep the retouching minimal...at least for the initial viewing. Make sure the lighting looks right, enhance slightly but as much as possible just get it right in camera. Is that to say that I won't do more retouching (rmoving a scar for instance) at the clients request? Absolutely not, it's their image and I will retouch it anyway they ask but it has to be their choice.