Headshots and Photoshop sit in a Goldilocks relationship – just enough, not too much…
Just because you can see a photo on a digital camera a millisecond after it is taken doesn’t mean that that is the final shot.
In many ways, the relationship between a shot from the day and the final version you’ll use is the same as between a film negative and a final print. And the sorts of things photographers do on a computer are similar to what we used to do in a darkroom.
Put simply, there is an awful lot than can be done to digitally master or photoshop a photo, but as to how much we do – well for headshots, always as little as possible.
It might be cropping to achieve the best composition, changing the colour contrast, converting to black and white or achieving the right resolution for the right purpose.
It can also be what you probably first think of when you think of photoshopping: airbrushing out blemishes or lines, removing stray hairs and etc.. This is basically tidying the image so that the eye of the viewer isn’t distracted by anything non-essential.
But it can also mean applying filters to refine the look of the photo or using techniques to make the eyes in the shot truly arresting.
In other words, it is all about heightening the impact of the photo, not making it a false representation. My preference is always to achieve the best results possible with the initial photo, then judiciously edit in photoshop to refine the look.
Personally, it is about taking to eye of the viewer (for headshots most often a casting director) where we want it. In a modern headshot that’s your eyes first, and everything else second.
NB. When I edit photos, I’m always delighted to have detailed instructions from a client, but if you don’t have such thoughts, you can rely on me to produce the best photo according to my judgement and expertise.