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Retouching Revisited

Long Island female boudoir photographer Susan Eckert takes on the issue of retouching

Boudoir Photographer and Retoucher

I get so many questions about retouching. And I can totally understand why. Visit one photographer’s website and you’ll see “I do skin smoothing, but I won’t do reshaping.” Another says “I want to celebrate your natural beauty,” and doesn’t offer retouching. And then here I come with my philosophy “While we’ll shoot to highlight your best features, I am not averse to restoring what time and motherhood have taken away.”

So, in short, here’s what I suggest to you girls looking for a photographer and deciding on this issue of retouching…

First, figure out what your own philosophy is – how do YOU feel about retouching?


I’ve had clients (and I have to admit these are a very small minority) who say, I want to keep it as natural as possible. And that’s great! In any case, I will usually point out that everyone could benefit from a little enhancement – even if it’s just evening out skin tones, or smoothing dry skin in those usual places (elbows, knees, feet, etc.) and they’ll agree. Done! Easy peasy!

Then there are the women who are really quite comfortable in their own skin…but maybe they’ve had 3, 4 or 5 kids. I’ve had twins, so HELLO! I can so relate to the tweaks these women might want. After all we did have waistlines BEFORE we got stretched to kingdom come! Why should we be punished for making this particular sacrifice?  : )

Alternatively, maybe it’s women who have had surgical procedures that have been disfiguring to some degree. Not a problem! I want these women to know that they are safe in my hands. Whether we opt to remove the scars or simply restore their body shape leaving the scar intact, it’s all about the client and her vision. Not ME putting my foot down one way or another.

Of course, retouching is only part of the equation. Posing and lighting can and do work wonders! But sometimes, even if it’s just for peace of mind, women want to be assured that their body issues can and will be taken care of. Rest assured, in most cases my response is a CAN DO!

You see, I’m not just a photographer. I’m a retoucher too. And here’s where my art background really comes in handy! Just like some people would be hard pressed to draw a convincing figure or outlines of a face, some photographers don’t know how to or aren’t skilled at reshaping. And still others don’t want to so they farm it out to other businesses where retouching pros they’ve never met will try to follow their instructions and make corrections.

As I see it, most of my clients have taken great pains to find THE photographer they can feel secure with, a female one at that, so why would I send images to a service where God knows how many different eyes would fall on those images? So, it goes without saying that I spend just as much time and effort honing my retouching skills as I do my shooting skills. I want to be a one stop shop, a full service photographer and retoucher. I want my clients to know that I am the only person handling their images.

So, is there anything I won’t do, you might ask.

And the answer is yes.

Because I’m all about building self-esteem and helping my clients truly reconnect with their inner and outer beauty, I will not honor requests to reshape body contours to such a degree that a size 18 beauty looks like a size 2 waif. I’m so happy to report that this particular request has only come once or twice in my years of shooting boudoir, way back in the early years, but now it doesn’t and that’s because I screen my clients to ensure that this doesn’t ultimately turn out to be the expectation.

Fact is I love shooting women with curves. I’m great at it. And I so love showing them how beautiful their curves can be – that by very definition, the feminine figure is all about curves!

If I had a dollar for every time someone calls and asks me if I shoot people who aren’t a size two, who don’t have perfect legs, who don’t have a model figure….you know the rest – I’d surely be rich! But the point is, of course I do! I just shoot them in ways that flatter, that highlight their best features – so you don’t notice the things they don’t want you to notice! And yes, when requested, I will give a little helping hand with my digital artistry – but only in such a way that it enhances what they already have going for them. I don’t create mannequins or turn people into someone unrecognizable.

So, no, in the end, I don’t see what’s wrong with a little help.

After all, celebrities don’t seem to either.

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