What some models expect from photographers…


It really bothers me as a photographer, that some female models expect a photographer to make them look beautiful, young, thin with flawless skin.  When someone takes my picture, I do jokingly say, make me look 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter, but I don’t expect that to happen.  I am who I am and I look the way I do.  Now a good photographer can use light and shadow to make you look lovelier but we aren’t cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists.  And unless you are willing to pay big bucks for retouching, I am only doing a few slight strokes of the magic wand in photoshop.

I was not formally schooled in photoshop or retouching so I am limited in what I can do and I don’t have the latest and greatest software so I can’t just press a button and watch your skin become flawless.  And I am of the ilk that believes in the basic reality of photography.  I am not shooting print ads for glamour magazines, fashion clients or cosmetic companies so I believe when a model has a horrible complexion, maybe she should choose another field or perhaps just another photographer who has the ability to alter her looks completely to suit her needs.  I am not talking about the occasional pimple, I’m talking about bumpy skin.  My husband recently photographed a model whose bumpy skin he softened a bit and she was furious that he didn’t give her the complexion of her dreams  (Obviously her other photos had been altered on her portfolio).   If he had done a “go see” with her, he probably would not have paid to shoot her (nude).    Most of his nudes are paid models.  Other than a lovely body and minimal ability to strike a pose, I felt she offered him little in the way of artistic collaboration or creativity.  And there are plenty of others willing to pose naked who don’t need major cosmetic retouching.

Along with the pros of the digital age there are also some cons.  The camera sees everything, every large pore, laughline or flaw is magnified ten-fold and what I am willing to do is to soften it, making my model more real, not less.  So if you are looking for head shots or even full body figure studies, I will not be pouring over the pixels, making you into a Cosmo cover or Playboy centerfold.  I will not be your instant weight loss program –   taking inches or years off you.  What I will do is use soft lighting to wash over you, give you tips on what angle or pose makes you look better through the lens.  I do that for my self portraits, we all want to look our best.  I believe in what you see is what you get.  And if you are a model, you are the product that you are selling.  I don’t want to book someone and wonder if she sent someone else in her place when she walks through the door and if you are doing head shots for agency work, they will not appreciate that you look nothing like your photo.  This is not to say that you need to be scrubbed clean of all make-up, and not run a comb through your hair.

Picture 2

unretouched self portrait

retouched: softened under eyes, under lip and fixed lipstick, took hard wrinkles out of grey cloth

And yes, I do feel that I look better after a touch up. Had I taken the time to apply a little make-up, I would have appeared more flawless.  I have only a little eyeliner on and lipstick,  NO face makeup and I no longer have the youthful glow that my complexion had 40 years ago.  I am 63 years old and if I were modeling, the photographer/client would know that I don’t look like a 30 year old but if they are looking for 50+ I would fit the bill.

I don’t have a problem doing glamour/beauty shots because I feel that they are equally important in your portfolio.  Clients want to see what you look like when you are all dolled up.

models prepping

unretouched photo taken w/ off camera flash in the make-up room

The only retouching I would do on the model above would be to color correct the blue cast, tone down the shine on her nose and above her lip. Her skin was somewhat flawless and the MUA brought out her features beautifully.


unretouched photo of a 20 something year old fashion model

This lovely Korean fashion model needs no improvement.  She was shot in studio with a number of soft boxes.

Art In Motion casting call

unretouched photo in natural lighting

This lovely model was shot outdoors, no artificial lighting used.  She was there for a casting call for a fashion show.  I would retouch the little bump on her forehead and delete her nose stud,  and whiten the whites of her eyes a tad.  That’s it.

The one thing all these models have in common is they are blessed with natural, beautiful complexions.  I am sure they have their own specific cleansing and moisturizing regiments suited to their skin types.

You don’t have to be 20 to have beautiful skin, but if you are earning your living in the world of modeling, I think you need to take care of the product you are selling (namely yourself).

©IMG_1250 copy

Portraits are the business side of my photography.  I recently did some headshots for a friend who wants to finally fulfill her life dream of acting.   Again the only retouching was a little softening under the eyes.  I used 3 modeling lights, a showcard to reflect upward which she held, and a flash that bounced off the ceiling.  The lighting was placed close to her for a softer look.

As a portrait photographer it is my job to make you as comfortable as you can be in front of the camera, draw out your personality and light you in a becoming way.

Just my humble opinion…




1 Comment

Filed under photography

One response to “What some models expect from photographers…

  1. right on girl …… well actually a lovely 63 yo woman i love. nice portraits you’re right we are who we are and if the world doesn’t like it then take a flying fu*k speaking of ……..luv U

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