The old adage of “time is money” could not be truer for retouchers, as our detail-oriented work demands hours of our time.
For photographers that retouch their own work, the cause-and-effect of accuracy in-capture pays dividends when it comes time to sit in front of your computer. And for those who outsource their work to retouchers, the following tips can help lower the overall cost due to less time-consuming troubleshooting in post production.
In the following article, we visit six issues to prevent in pre-capture, with the first three contributed by RA founder, Julia Kuzmenko McKim, originally published in 3 Retouching PITAs to Prevent in Pre-Capture.
Julia Kuzmenko McKim: I cannot tell you how much I dislike fixing chapped lips in post-production, and I bet you feel the same if you have ever had to deal with them before. Of course, I have figured out the most effective ways to do it by now, but: a) it’s time-consuming, b) it will still look much better if the lipstick is applied on smooth lips, not over skin flakes, obviously.
My talented Makeup Artists shared with me how to improve the texture of the skin on the lips, if a model has not been taking care of them prior to the shoot. You will need:
1. A disposable mascara wand (spoolie) or a soft toothbrush;
2. Any oil (a multipurpose oil or even olive oil), whatever you have available at your studio.
Before your MUA starts applying any makeup, take a look at your model’s face to see if her lips are nice and moisturized. If you notice that her lips are dry and chapped, dip a disposable mascara wand into oil and let your model gently rub the mascara brush on her lips.
The idea is to exfoliate the skin on the lips and remove any dry skin flakes leaving the lips soft with a healthy-looking texture.
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Bulging Veins on Hands
JKM: This is perfectly normal for lean human beings to have their veins visible on the back of their hands, but we are often asked to remove them in post. There’s a way to actually “fix” them even before you capture the images.
Before you take the shots where the hands (with bulging veins) are visible, ask your model or client to raise her hands and shake them loose for 5 seconds. The blood will rush back from the hands and the skin will appear nice and even.
JKM: If you’re shooting beauty where your model’s or client’s bare shoulders will be visible, ask her to take off her bra before she sits down for her makeup and hair prep. That way the lines on her skin from tight bra straps will disappear by the time you are ready to shoot.
It’s a good idea to have a nice dressing gown in the studio for your clients and models to throw on while they are getting their hair and makeup done. And, of course, a little private changing area, so they feel comfortable changing after you bring up losing their bra.
Any Lines & Creases
Following the logic of the prior example, be sure to keep an eye out for anything that can leave behind marks or creases. Hair-ties on a wrist are one of the biggest culprits, and can sneak their way into a frame if you aren’t watchful.
For images that may involve three-quarter or full-length framing, make sure that while your model is having her hair and makeup done, that their clothing isn’t digging into their abdomen or any other areas on their body. This has happened before during an agency test with a new face, where the model didn’t realize the indentations made by the pants she was wearing. They left unsightly marks on the skin that didn’t fade until the end of the shoot and were hellish to retouch.
Makeup & Hair Imperfections
Makeup and hair applications often dominate a large portion of the time at a photoshoot, either to create a variety of looks or to ensure the subject looks their best. Typically, this means that foundation can sit on a model’s face for hours, along with other products such as primer, concealer, etc. These products typically tend to dry out, or your subject’s skin can produce excess oil throughout the course of a shoot which would also need to be addressed.
Make sure that you’re reviewing the state of the makeup throughout the production. Areas where foundation tends to crack or separate the most are at the sides of the mouth, and around the eyes. On that note, watch for creasing in eyeshadow (particularly when using cream or glossy eyeshadows), as well as any dryness to the lips, as both areas tend to require refreshing.
Tame That Hair
If you ask a retoucher what the bane of their retouching existence is, there’s a high probability that the answer will be “hair.” Whether it is facial hair / peach fuzz in beauty retouching, body hair, or even styled hair, paying close attention to how it can impact post-production is incredibly important.
I recommend having disposable facial razors, so that peach fuzz can be removed prior to any makeup application, should it be necessary. Aside from that, if you have a hair stylist or MUAH on set, assign them the critical task of keeping an eye on the model’s hair. If it appears frizzy, they need to fix that, if there are some troublesome strands plastered across the face, they need to jump in for that as well. Hair is not something you want to “fix in post,” as retouching hair proficiently is a time-consuming task.
Armed with the pitfalls mentioned above, watching out for these issues before the capture is taken will save you a lot of time while editing.