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From Drab to Fab - How retouching your photos can unlock the hidden potential
Can you attract more clients and film roles if you digitally enhance your photos?
Only if it is done JUST right. Otherwise, nothing can make a more lasting impression to the industry gatekeepers, such as casting directors and agents, than an over-retouched photo, and not the one you want to make. You, with a major face-lift and liposuction? Not for this purpose, at least.
Since photos are the “calling card” of the business, they need to be dynamic, yet look “real”, as I learned from Lisa Masters, a talented photo retoucher: digital retouching can make the difference in whether a picture will ‘grab attention', thus, opening doors for modeling and acting work.
“Agents and casting directors need to see YOU in the photo,” says Lisa. Then she ads, “You, on a good day, looking healthy.”
“She doesn't quite ‘jump off the page'. ” says Lisa Masters, as she allows me to look over her shoulder while she studies a photo of a model on her computer screen.
“Her smile is great….very energetic and wonderful composition…but…she will be more inviting and vibrant looking after I'm finished with it.”
Lisa Masters retouches models and actors' photos to help them effectively market their unique “look”. For several years now, she has combined her experience as a successful working actor and model for 22 years and offers herself as career consultant through her business, www.workasamodel.com
I asked her why a great photograph or someone who is already attractive in the first place needs photo retouching? Or what about someone less attractive?
“Even though a photo may contain elements that will market the talent appropriately, it could use some more enhancing. Photos should really “pop”, as every modeling and acting agent will agree”, she adds.
“I do not alter my clients appearance, I enhance it.” she stresses. “Unless they request me to do so, of course I can transform anyone. Want to lose 15 pounds? No problem. But I usually slim down areas on the body a little because the angle might not be so flattering, the posture was not great, the clothing did not fit right, or they forgot to suck in their tummy, but I don't think it should be a “lie.”
Retouching can get a bad rap, especially in the print media today. Nothing is “real” anymore, which has actually inspired many lawmakers in Europe to push advertisers to pull back on digital enhancement in newspapers and magazines. Packed full of misleading images of super thin, over-retouched girls and even older women with perfect skin, readers, especially woman, print media can feed into low self-esteem problems. They can never live up to the airbrushed images. Which leads to the dilemma of actors and models wanting to compete in the business, yet not airbrush away their flaws.
“I learned how to retouch on my own modeling photos many years ago,” she said. “So I was really careful when learning my craft that I had to maintain honesty while improving it in subtle or unobvious ways to create a more dynamic photo.”
“When I told my bookers at Bella Agency and New York Model Management that I retouched the pictures in my portfolio, which they loved, they said they would have NEVER known I had done anything to them, unless they saw the “before' picture. (See her Photos at the top of the article) In one beauty shot, I added hair because the humidity had flattened it that day, made my mouth turn up slightly to smile more, opened up my left eye that looked sleepy, got rid of a little sunburn, got rid of distracting bra straps and jewelry, and improved my posture.”
“They were blown away! And that's how my business started,” she said proudly.
“I sometimes get a client who likes their photos but doesn't love them. Could have been an off day. Often they can't interpret why. I'm able to tell them what will turn a descent photo into a great photo.” said Lisa.
“The eyes should sparkle and you should look rested, and vibrant, as if you just got back from a three week vacation!”
“Do you still get requests to make someone look younger, like removing their wrinkles?” I ask.
“Again, I keep it real. Taking 10 years off would be self-defeating for the talent. I use digital retouching as a subtle tool. My last client, who was in her 50's said she loved her retouched photo because it still looked exactly like her…just better.”
What about those folks who are more of a “character” than a pretty or handsome face?” I ask, “Do you try to make them better looking?”
Lisa smiled and said “It's the characters that get most of work in TV and commercial print, because the advertisers are usually looking for a “real looking” mom, grandfather or teen. We are careful not to dull out anyone's positive quirks or age. Again, we let the “50-somethings” look like they are 50.”
This leads me to the question: What about price?
“Photo retouching will be the least expensive of all the steps in getting your comp cards or headshots produced. It is also one if the most important and overlooked. Most retouching jobs vary from $25 to $85 per photo, depending on the amount of work needed.
“I love enhancing actors and models photos for them. They feel confident and proud with their pictures, and isn't that a major element to success? One of my regular clients likes to instruct me. ‘Ok, do your magic!' ”
Email Lisa: email@example.com
Link to her website: www.workasamodel.com
Article written by William Brooks, a freelance writer, author and singer-song writer in New York City.
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