Retouching for Corporate Headshots and Environmental Portraits

These days, it’s critical to have an awesome portrait that reflects confidence.  With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn and company websites, the on-line profile essentially replaces the business card.  We have one chance in the online world to make a fantastic, first impression and having a stellar portrait is a great start.

Corporate headshots and environmental portrait photography are commercial assignments I do with regularity so it helps to have a system in place for retouching the portraits as the post-production process can be very subjective.

Typically, if time allows, my subjects have a chance to select their hero headshot immediately after their session and give me a heads-up on any specific retouching they would like me to do and the requests, as you can imagine, are always pretty consistent.  Make me younger and thinner.  Of course, I’m more than happy to oblige though I do tend to believe that we earn those grey hairs, the few extra pounds and the lines that show that we have been living our lives to the fullest.

When we have multiple portraits to do and are running low on time, I edit the images and upload between 3 to 5 of the best headshots of each person into a web gallery where the client can take their time in making their final selections.  Once I receive their picks, it’s showtime and I have a process that is incredibly effective and produces portraits that are engaging, confident and clean.

Take a look at the before and after samples below and move the slider to see the improvements that are made with retouching.  

  • Before-Blemish Removal & Tidy Hair
    After-Blemish Removal & Tidy Hair
    Before Blemish Removal & Tidy Hair After
  • Before-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    After-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    Before Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine After
  • Before-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    After-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    Before Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening After
  • Before-Teeth Whitening & Skin Smoothing
    After-Teeth Whitening & Skin Smoothing
    Before Teeth Whitening & Skin Smoothing After
  • Before-Skin Tone & Soften Under-Eyes
    After-Skin Tone & Soften Under-Eyes
    Before Skin Tone & Soften Under-Eyes After
  • Before-Overall Retouching
    After-Overall Retouching
    Before Overall Retouching After

As seen in the samples above, the changes simply enhance the image as opposed to completely changing it except of course in the last example where the background color was modified to match the subjects’ suit jacket.

The retouching for corporate headshots and environmental portraits that I apply are for the purpose of making each subject look their best so I do stay away from making drastic revisions that we see so much of these days.  Simple fixes make us look like our genuine and best selves.

Keep in mind also that although there are plenty of fixes that post-production can provide, there are also a few simple things you can do to look your best for your corporate headshot or environmental portrait as well.  This previous post was written with corporate portraits in mind however many of these guidelines apply to environmental portraits as well so check them out.

On Assignment: Commercial Photography for Cox Automotive

On Assignment: Commercial Photography for Cox Automotive

It’s a rare occasion when I head off to a commercial assignment without several cases of lighting gear and my Assistants in tow.  But when Cox Automotive asked me to head out to the Mannheim Auto Auction just south of Chicago to shoot their facilities, they were looking for a more editorial photography feel that comes with available light and I was all in.


Manheim is the highest volume operator of wholesale auto auctions in the world with 130 locations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Cox Enterprises purchased Mannheim in 1968 and also owns a majority share of Auto Trader which is one of the world’s leading providers of online and print automotive consumer information.


 (Click on an image for a larger preview)

The plan was to focus on different areas within the facility that focus on preparing cars that have just been sold in the auction for consumer use.  From under the hood inspections to brake repairs and detailing, Cox Auto covers it all.

From a lighting standpoint, I got lucky.  The facility was in a huge warehouse with plenty of windows to pull in a good amount of daylight and though the lighting was primarily fluorescents, between the daylight balancing and the white walls, any interference from the typical muddy green cast of the fluorescents was cancelled out.


 (Click on an image for a larger preview)

To simulate the look that the creative team was going for in post-production, I applied some desaturation and bumped up the details using a few filters found in the Photoshop plug-in offered by Topaz Labs called Topaz Adjust which is worth checking out.  There are so many options from color casts to alternative film processing filters that you could easily spend an excess amount of time playing around with each image.

I’ll be looking forward to the next round with Cox Automotive when I’ll be heading to Indianapolis and Cincinnati to produce more editorial photography with a focus on the Auction floor.