Photo Enhancement

I was a freckled kid and I was also a girly-girl who loved dresses, hair baubles and makeup. I dreamed of flawless, pretty skin like I saw in Glamour, Vogue, and Seventeen, but my mother told me, "Those pictures are airbrushed." (The term we used before photoshopped. There I go, showing my age again.) Later in life, as a student of photography under Marion Patterson, I was taught to believe a photo should reveal the true person. And I a point.

However, unlike your best friend, photos are harsh and unforgiving. Photos often do not reveal us as others see us or we see ourselves. When you have a conversation with someone, you might notice a zit on their chin or that scar across their nose they got when their stupid little brother was fooling around with the rake instead of cleaning the yard like he was supposed to be doing, but your vision of them is somewhat soft-focused as you look in their eyes and concentrate on what they're saying. A photo, however, displays that zit in all its angry red glory and puts it on display forever.

There is nothing wrong with cleaning our photos to put our best foot forward.
In this example, I've taken an already nice photo and added some subtle techniques that add a significant improvement. I started with blemish removal and skin smoothing of the face, neck, chest, and arms. I brightened the already existing color on her lips. Her eyebrows looked pretty good already, so I left those alone. I brightened the eye whites and irises just a bit to really make her eyes the primary focal point of the image. The photo was originally shot with a fairly wide aperture resulting in the blurred and soft bokeh background, but I added just a bit more blur and softened it so the girl really stands out as the main subject. I whitened her teeth and softened the natural bags under her eyes to make them look more like they probably do when you're face to face with her having a conversation. Finally a little overall brightening of the skin and hair. What you see is a more flattering image of a lovely girl.

Before: harsh
After: soft

Here's another example of skin smoothing, blemish removal, eye brightening and tooth whitening. She was a little pale, so I added some blush, as well as a little lip color. To finish, an overall brightening of the main subject.