Is an updated professional headshot part of your New Year’s Resolution? Organic Headshots breaks down headshot retouching

With the rise of online networking and personal brand building, the professional headshot is more important than ever. Everyone wants to look their best and often that means doing some retouching, when it comes to editing, everyone has a comfort zone, but how do you know if you’ve gone too far?

We talked to the experts at Organic Headshots (and an AMA Chicago sponsor) who have two main questions to help guide their clients when it comes to professional headshots:

  1. Does the photo still look like me (today, not 20 years ago)
  2. If a stranger looked at this photo and then saw me on the street, would they recognize me?

Your headshot should look like you on your absolute best day. This means that you should still have lines, wrinkles, and pores and all the other facial features that make us human but softened and made less noticeable at a first glace. The challenge with a headshot is that we are looking at something three dimensional (your face) and making it two dimensional, seeing it frozen in time on a computer screen and not in real life, that means that our eyes are drawn to things we’re not drawn to when seeing a physical face in real life.

Organic Headshots owner and photographer, Michelle Kaffko, was kind enough to break down her steps to a great headshot for us by using her own photos.

In the first photo she says: “In person, no one ever notices that one of my eyes is a little bigger than the other. You don’t see the slight unevenness in my skin tone or redness or shine. But, in a photo your eyes might go to those distracting areas.”

Here’s Michelle’s photo with no retouching.

Here’s Michelle’s photo with just the right amount of retouching which just removes, reduces, or diminishes anything distracting and optimizes the image:

To take it one step further, Michelle, also redid her photo to what she calls: “RETOUCHING GONE OVERBOARD”. She notes that in this photo below: “I don’t have any wrinkles anymore, my undereye areas have become one with my cheeks, my skin is poreless and has ceased to become skin, all my freckles are gone, and overall, it just doesn’t look like me anymore.”

If the last photo is more your style, it’s closer to what Organic Headshots likes to call “artistic license retouching,” or using photo manipulation to create a work of art based on the human form instead of accurately depicting the human form. This is a type of retouching that works great for fashion magazine cover, but not so great for LinkedIn profile photos.

Michelle says: “that doesn’t mean we can’t steal some of the techniques to even our skin tone, straighten a slightly crooked nose, or diminish some eye bags. Just as long as it’s done pinch by pinch and not tablespoon by tablespoon.”

If you are looking to update your headshot in 2022, Michelle recommends the following rule of thumb: “When your photo has been retouched, just ask yourself: if this photo were used by Interpol to find me after I commit an international crime would I be easily caught?”

Submit Your Article

Submit your idea for one of our monthly guest writer spots.