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The 5 Worst Portrait Retouching Mistakes

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We all make mistakes when it comes to editing our photos, but some mistakes are worse than others. This is particularly true when it comes to retouching portraits.

Retouch touch your portraits correctly and it will bring out the best in your subject and make you look like a pro. Go overboard (or awry) with your retouching in Photoshop, Lightroom or other image editing software and it can ruin a portrait and make the person you photographed question your skills.

Fortunately, there are editing experts like Francisco Hernandez of FJH Photography to steer you in the right direction when it comes to retouching portraits. In the below video tutorial, Hernandez shares his “top five portrait retouching mistakes to avoid.”

“I’ve been retouching photos for quite a while now and learned some things that work and some things that don’t work,” Fernandez says. “And I wanted to talk about those things that don’t work in today’s video. Every single mistake that I’m going to be talking about is something that I’ve actually done in the past. And if you find you’ve done one of these mistakes, don’t be ashamed. Instead, take it as a sign to ease up on those retouching techniques.”

#1 Oversharpening

“Less is more when it comes to sharpening an image, ” Hernandez says. “When it comes to taking portraits there are different factors that can contribute to a sharper image, such as the lens itself being sharp, a faster shutter speed, or if you use flash. But if you achieve a fairly decent image in terms of sharpness, then there’s no reason to really push it and make it too sharp because it can lead to some really nasty results.”

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#2 Oversaturation

“Keep it subtle to avoid appearing unnatural. As someone who really loves color in my own images, I can tell you that back in the day I did this way too often. ”

#3 Blurred Skin

“Avoid making people into mannequins! It gets to the point where there’s no texture in that skin and it looks obviously too smooth and really fake.”

#4 Bright Eyes

“Avoid giving the subject alien eyes. This is when you add too much brightness to the eyes.”

#5 Haloing

“Haloing is simply when you apply a certain effect to the entire image but then you paint it off certain sections and it looks too obvious where you painted off that effect. Your retouch should not be obvious.”

Watch the video below where Hernandez demonstrates each of these retouching mistakes and then shows you better ways to achieve the results you’re looking for. It’s worth noting that there’s a sponsored ad from about the 50-second to 2-minute mark in the video, so if you want to avoid that, skip ahead. If you’re looking for more portrait editing advice, check out this tutorial where pro photographer Lucy Martin shares three easy way to edit portraits in Lightroom.


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