Over-Retouching The Skin: Yay or Nay?

        Beauty and perfection are subjects that interest me since many years. Retouching the skin of the models is part of my job, but sometimes it feels wrong to remove the imperfections. That is why I love capture portraits of models without makeup besides my fashion editorials. I don’t retouch the portraits because portraits have to tell something about the person, they have to show their personality. And when I would remove their flaws, it is not interesting anymore.

        My favorite photographer for years is Peter Lindbergh (71). His portraits of supermodels are black and white, raw and natural. Please Google his name if you don’t know his work! I love his vision and his work. He changed fashion photography in a good way in my opinion.

        Lindbergh says the era of the supermodels is over but he tends to work with the same models over and over again, like Lara Stone and Kate Moss. It’s not about finding the new all the time, but building a relationship and creating a style that is beyond fashion. Personally I can understand his statements about fashion and beauty. He says an over-edited photo of a model is boring because you don’t see her personality and you can’t tell her age. I always preferred the more natural look in my photos and in the editing process, but some clients want to see the skin of the models super clean (= no wrinkles, no spots, no little hairs on the skin etc). It was not something I liked to do, but I did it anyway.

        “Magazines have to sign a contract agreeing not to do any retouching, otherwise, he says, it happens. “The cosmetic companies have everyone brainwashed. I don’t retouch anything. ‘Oh, but she looks tired!’ they say. So what if she looks tired? Tired and beautiful.”

        Source: The Guardian. Interview with Peter Lindbergh.

        This September, Peter Lindbergh opent his exhibition in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam and every magazine or website posted an interview with him. All interviews are about his vision and the fact that he doesn’t retouch the skin. He also prefers really natural makeup. Flaws make us a beautiful living being. It was during my graduation time when I had to read books about perfection and the power of beauty for my thesis. I choose to write about models, their beauty, their flaws and what makes them special. I did many photoshoots with agency signed models where they didn’t wear any makeup, see the post where I show my photos of 12 Pretty Models Without Makeup , made in 2013 and 2014.

        The Fashion Camera

        So what to do know? I will not completely stop with retouching the skin, but I want to keep it real. For the fashion editorials I will retouch the little spots and the dark skin under the eyes, but I will not make the skin look like plastic (I can’t remember I ever did this, but maybe I tend to make the skin flawless a few years ago because I saw all magazines and brands doing this). For my natural portrait series I will not retouch anything! Let’s keep it real!

        What are your thoughts about retouching?

        Photography: Liselotte Fleur
        Model: Shanna @ Touche Models


        Liselotte Fleur