Techniques for Retouching Headshots Quickly – A Video Tutorial

I’ve been hired more than a few times to provide headshots for a large group of people (25-40) – when I do these shoots, I’ll do a pretty basic set up, spend no more than 5 minutes with each person and crank out their head shots.  Not the best way to do it but for situations like this, it’s about the only way to do it.  The time-consuming part comes with the editing and retouching. Basic cropping, exposure and tone adjustments are done pretty quickly in Lightroom, especially since you can sync the settings across multiple photos. But retouching has to be done individually, so I’ve developed a set of steps that I use so it becomes a little more of a fixed process, and it saves me time so I thought I’d try my hand at doing a video tutorial.  I recorded the retouching process for one headshot from the time I bring it into Photoshop to finish. The video is just under 15 minutes long because I talk my way through it – if I did this in real life, my wife would probably kill me! – but when I’m in the flow, it probably takes no more than 5 minutes to go through these steps.  The key is to have a set process and steps, and to use actions.  With the actions, you save so many manual steps that it easily cuts my retouching time by half or more.

The frequency separation technique and layer set ups I use can be found at fStoppers , the modified inverted high-pass technique for skin softening by Scott Kelby is at Kelby One (membership required though I believe there is a free trial – it’s TOTALLY worth the membership though), as is the method for whitening teeth taught by Calvin Hollywood.  I hope this video tutorial is helpful – please let me know if there are others you’d like to see or if you have any constructive criticism on my techniques or how I did this tutorial!

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