After a shoot but before I share any images with the model, I take some time to edit the RAW files. At a minimum, I will review contrast, color, brightness, and cropping to insure the image looks reasonably good.
Beyond the basic edits photo mentioned above, the question is "how much re-touching should I do to enhance the model's appearance?". Recently, I have moved toward greater editing to create a more glamorous appearance.
I experimented with having a few models wear basic make up during the shoot, but this seemed to give a fake appearance and detracted from the final image. On the other hand, some of the newer software packages allow me to very effectively enhance the model's appearance and provide a more dramatic image while retaining the original natural image if desired.
Since I believe the purpose of a professional photo shoot often includes providing images that stand out from the typical selfies and amateur shots, the addition of more glamour does seem appropriate. Of course if a model prefers a more natural look, that is fine too.
Edits to add glamour and enhance the overall appearance include softening the skin, brightening the eyes, reducing bags under the eyes, basic sculpting of the face, removal of skin blemishes, shadowing around mouth and nose to enhance the look, and removal of skin shine. For all of these edits, the software allows us to fine tune and adjust the amount we desire for each image.
If you compare a before and after of an image, the after can appear a bit fake and over the top. On the other hand, if you only view the edited version of the image, it is less obvious.
Most people want to look their best and giving them an image that really makes them stand out from their previous images (often shared on social media), they almost always get many comments/likes. We also are all very used to seeing edited images of famous people. Most any magazine/editorial featuring a photograph will include some edits.
While a natural/un-edited photo may be fine, it doesn't usually have that extra special "wow" factor that makes people take notice.
To see a before and after version of a re-touched image, click here.