Skin Retouching for Photographers – How to Manage Client Expectations

Skin Retouching– Managing Client Expectations in Photography

Clients often expect smooth, sleek, and spotless skin from their models. But in the real world, nobody comes pre-airbrushed—even top models. Sometimes, even with the best photographers, cameras, and makeup artists, you’ll wind up needing to retouch your models in post-production to remove skin blemishes, marks, and wrinkles.

High-end skin retouching can be challenging and time-consuming, yet it’s essential for client satisfaction. As photographers, how can we make our clients happy without spending days in Photoshop? This guide will let you in on the secrets of photo editors, help you manage client expectations, and show you how to generate gorgeous, flaw-free images without breaking the bank.

How To Talk to Your Clients About Skin Retouching

  1. Communicate in advance

Make sure to set expectations with your clients in advance. If you’re not willing to do more than simple retouching, or if you want to put a limit on requests for revisions, be upfront to avoid awkward conversations later and have these expectations in writing. Transparency and compromise are essential to making your clients happy in the long run. 

  1. Be open to criticism

When you’ve worked hard to edit your photos, it can be hard to hear that your client wants more. But remember: retouching is more about the client’s expectations than your editing skills! You may simply have a different approach than they do. Try to remember where your clients are coming from—the success of their business depends on the quality of their photos, so they are anxious to have the best.

  1. Align on tools and costs

You might not be a Photoshop whiz, and that’s okay. There are accessible, cost-effective tools to help you automate the editing process. Before getting started, make sure to communicate with your clients about what tools you will be using. Let them know what the associated costs are, whether it will be manual or automated, whether there are options for batch editing, how much time it requires, etc.

  1. Maintain the relationship

In the end, you want a happy client, but you also don’t want to burn yourself out trying to meet an unreasonable standard. Your goal should be to find a compromise that satisfies your clients without requiring Herculean effort on your part, and this is why we recommend looking at automated tools that can expedite the process.

Can You Get High-Quality Results With Automated Retouching?

Often, clients think manual retouching is the only option that produces quality results, so they expect their photographers to doctor all their images by hand. But modern AI-enabled software can be an incredibly powerful tool and make advanced skin retouching quick and easy. 

Is there a catch? Sort of. Not all tools give you the ability to customize the edits that are applied to your images, which can wind up looking unprofessional or generic. Take the following image, for example:

Yes, the model’s skin is glowing, but that’s all we see in the picture—the model! Despite having a “perfect” appearance, the photo looks overdone. Worse, nobody knows what the clients are trying to sell here. The first rule of thumb in skin retouching is the more natural, the better. The point of retouching is to remove distracting elements and focus on selling the product. If it’s overdone, the retouching itself becomes a distraction. 

This can happen with manual retouching too, but it’s a very common issue with automated tools. However, some tools like autoRetouch let you customize your edits while massively expediting the end result. In the next section, we’ll take a look at how autoRetouch makes editing easy.

How Does autoRetouch Work for Skin Retouching?

Surpass your clients’ expectations with consistent, high-quality skin retouching.

autoRetouch is an AI-enabled tool that can retouch skin in a single click. Unlike other automation software, autoRetouch has a wide variety of skin data based on age, ethnicity, and body area, which results in better outcomes for all skin types. It applies minimalist retouching to maintain the authenticity and natural appearance of your images.

The tool works with two presets:

1. Smart Mole Removal

How it works: autoRetouch’s AI algorithm analyzes the model’s skin and finds the difference between moles/blemishes and freckles, removing only the moles. This can be further customized if needed to leave certain marks in the photo.

2. Automatic Airbrushing

This feature applies a high-pass and gaussian blur over your images, giving the skin a smooth, natural finish. With additional customization options, editors can alter the level of smoothing according to their client’s preferences.

Bottom Line

There is no magic button for skin retouching, but you can get pretty close with modern automated editing options. Clear communication with your clients is key to making everyone happy with the final results, and you don’t need to go all-in on Photoshop editing to get beautiful, professional-looking images. Retouching is one of the most challenging tasks in the post-production stage, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and expedite your process with automation software like autoRetouch.