I can’t help but feel the big question is “should we?”  Should we correct Mother Nature?  We know individuals choose plastic surgery on a regular basis to correct facial and body features.  We also know corrective surgery to repair facial and body/skin damage is considered medically necessary and is in fact routine.  But these permanent corrections in our appearance are much different than the temporary correction of a photograph.

Default corrections selected automatically in Portrait Professonal for the “after” side of the image.

 

I can’t help but feel the big question is “should we?”  Should we correct Mother Nature?  We know individuals choose plastic surgery on a regular basis to correct facial and body features.  We also know corrective surgery to repair facial and body/skin damage is considered medically necessary and is in fact routine.  But these permanent corrections in our appearance are much different than the temporary correction of a photograph.

What drives a person to request such changes?  In my experience with client, vanity plays a big part, and nostalgia as well.  Clients often want their current partners to see what they looked like 10 or even 20 years previously.  Fair enough.  But should it be done as a routine retouching treatment on portraits or to make someone look better in a magazine, newspaper, or website?  I think not.

Moreover, some clients will take deep offence if you offer to correct their “defects” without their asking.  It’s a potential minefield of risk, but handled correctly many clients will be appreciative if given the choice.  I’ll often bring up the retouching, or correction of features, as part of a list of services so the client doesn’t assume I’m referring to them directly.  If they ask questions I’ll elaborate, if not I won’t mention it again.

In years past such corrections took a great deal of skill with Photoshop, with this being an area where you combine artistic with technical skills to properly pull of facial corrections.  I started by spending hundreds of hours just on eyes alone, then reshaping of the facial structure, noses, and as I improved I added more capabilities to my bag of tricks.  Years of experience were needed to pull off successful corrections, and even then I was never the master a select few become.

Today we have software which allows virtually anyone with a computer to make such changes.  I’m currently reviewing one such software package from Anthropics called Portrait Professional Studio 10.  Version 11 Master Edition will be out soon.  I wanted to show what’s possible using this software in this article and briefly discuss the ‘should we’ question.  A more in-depth review will follow with the release of version 11.

Finding a demonstration subject was difficult.  I’m very careful when choosing models and as a photographer I understand what facial features make someone attractive, so most every “model” image I had didn’t require correction.  You’ve seen the image below in my tutorial  “Lightroom, Processing a Glamor Portrait.”

 

Notice her symmetry is perfect, both sides of the facial crown are identical, eyes are the same size, well shaped, and properly proportioned, the noise bridged and straight, and the lips full and equal on both sides with a smooth soft appearing skin.  These are the hallmarks of an attractive face which applies to both male and female models.  Most all of my models have these features, after a while you almost subconsciously make such selections.  So with some searching I found the model below.

 

Notice her symmetry is perfect, both sides of the facial crown are identical, eyes are the same size, well shaped, and properly proportioned, the noise bridged and straight, and the lips full and equal on both sides with a smooth soft appearing skin.  These are the hallmarks of an attractive face which applies to both male and female models.  Most all of my models have these features, after a while you almost subconsciously make such selections.  So with some searching I found the model below.

 

This young lady appears attractive at first glance, but it’s mostly due to youth and accessories.  Study her face and you’ll see her face is much larger on the left side, with the left nostril being significantly smaller than the right nostril.  Similarly her mouth is misshaped.  These ‘defects’ extend throughout her body with such asymmetrical features as breasts, arms, legs, and even shoe sizes.  I hesitate to use the word “defect”, but for lack of a better word we’ll use it here.

 

This young lady appears attractive at first glance, but it’s mostly due to youth and accessories.  Study her face and you’ll see her face is much larger on the left side, with the left nostril being significantly smaller than the right nostril.  Similarly her mouth is misshaped.  These ‘defects’ extend throughout her body with such asymmetrical features as breasts, arms, legs, and even shoe sizes.  I hesitate to use the word “defect”, but for lack of a better word we’ll use it here.

Anthropics Portrait Professional Studio 10  allows you to make subtle or even exaggerated corrections to the shape of the face, eyes, cheekbones, eye color, nose, neck, and more.  It’s very powerful and I suppose easy to get carried away with.

 

The image leading this article shows the before and after portraits with the default corrections selected by Portrait Professional Studio 10.  The image immediately above reflects the same ‘before’, but the ‘after’ reflects my corrections.  I made the neck a bit longer, made the two sides of the facial crown more symmetrical (but not perfect), shaped the mouth to a more natural state, and enlarged the eyes a bit while adding a blue iris color just to show you it can be done with this software.  The skin was also smoothed.

My corrections selected in Portrait Professonal for the “after” side of the image.

 

The image leading this article shows the before and after portraits with the default corrections selected by Portrait Professional Studio 10.  The image immediately above reflects the same ‘before’, but the ‘after’ reflects my corrections.  I made the neck a bit longer, made the two sides of the facial crown more symmetrical (but not perfect), shaped the mouth to a more natural state, and enlarged the eyes a bit while adding a blue iris color just to show you it can be done with this software.  The skin was also smoothed.

These are all subtle changes, but the aggregate effect is profound.  I could have completely corrected the facial defects, but to my eye she would have looked like a different woman.  In my opinion it’s far better to make subtle changes even the model would have trouble identifying, though they’d immediately see the overall effect.

Is there a place for such software in modern portraiture?  I think there is.  What took 30-45 minutes for an experienced operator to accomplish in Photoshop took 3-4 minutes using Anthropics Portrait Professional Studio 10.  I’ve shared several “improved” portraits with the models and if done in moderation they were all for it and expressed outright delight with the changes.  Yet, the more you explained what you did, the more you call attention to their defects, the less thrilled they become.  And again, if you show them a version which totally corrects the defects they won’t like it either.

What  Anthropics Portrait Professional Studio 10  does, is puts the option for such corrections within reach of almost anyone without the steep learning curve of Photoshop.  This is good on one front, but I have reservations, without the ancillary experiences gained through the steep learning curve is the photographer adequately prepared to wield such power?  I’ll let you answer that question..