There are a ton of factors that go into a great headshot. Some factors are super obvious like the position of the lighting, the makeup used, the hair, the background and many, many more. One factor though can make or break your headshot and that’s control of skin highlights in retouching.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “we’ll fix that in post”. “Post” in this case is short for “post production”. Post production for headshots usually refers to retouching that removes disturbing blemishes as well as smoothing out the transition from highlights to mid-tones. Many photographers do their own retouching. Busier photographers often contract out their retouching to a professional retoucher.
If you’re shopping for a bargain basement headshot your photographer may not have the retouching chops needed to correct obvious areas.
Let’s see how subtle retouching can make an enormous difference in the finished headshot. On the left image, our model has shiny and blown out highlights on her cheeks, chin and forehead. Also the transition from the highlights to the mid-tones are abrupt and un-flattering. Now, look at the image on the right (retouched by yours truly) where the highlights are reduced to pleasing light points and the transition from light to mid-tone is gradual and pleasing across the whole face.
Great retouching makes a difference.