Managing Client Expectations: Skin Retouching
An all-too-common situation with clients involves skin retouching in post-processing. As photographers, we each have our comfort level when it comes to how much editing we perform on skin - whether it's just a tiny bit to smooth things out, or full on Vogue style airbrushing. The amount of skin retouching you perform also depends on your client, obviously - if you are a fashion photographer, skin retouching is par for the course!
What about portrait photographers who photograph every day people and their families? How much retouching should you offer? When a client asks for more retouching than you feel comfortable with, or have the time for, how do you approach the situation?
There are so many things to consider in this situation, but here are a few key points:
Communication Is Key
Subtly conveying to your client the level of retouching you are willing perform will go a very long way. You probably shouldn't bring it up verbally right away unless the client does, though - let them be the one to bring it to the conversation. Having a section in your contract about post-processing will be helpful for both you and your client. For example, you could expressly state that any additional post-processing requests will be billed at an additional hourly rate. You can state that basic skin adjustments are included in your pricing, but when it comes to things like altering the shape of someone's face, you have the option to either say "No, I don't do that" or you can meet their request at an additional fee.
Don't Take It Personally
It is difficult to hear someone say that they are unhappy with a certain element of a photo when we work so hard at what we do, but keep in mind that, when it comes to a client requesting extensive skin retouching, this has more to do with the client's needs than it does your photography skills. Sure, there are ways that you can pose and light your client to make them look their best, but sometimes, they won't be quite satisfied until everything they perceive as an imperfection is banished.
Do your best to understand where they are coming from, then educate them...
Educating Your Client
The majority of people who have never used editing software think that we can just press a button or two and they will have flawless skin (thanks, Hollywood).
Gently and briefly inform your client that, when making adjustments to skin, you will need to individually edit every single photo, which is time consuming. Most clients will be satisfied with simply a handful of images with skin retouching. If you have a client who insists on having every image retouched, you may want to consider charging for additional editing time, because your time is valuable, and this will surely cause you to take time away from other endeavors.
Maintain the Relationship
At the end of the day, you want your client to be happy, right? Of course you do! Working with them on skin retouching can be a challenge, but it is also a way to make them extremely happy. Your goal is to not only find the happy medium between satisfying your client and not spending too many hours in front of your computer on behalf of their needs, but also to decide how much skin retouching you should (and want) to be doing overall.
Do you have any tips on how to approach client expectations when it comes to skin retouching? We would love to hear from you! Please join us in our private Pretty Photoshop Actions Facebook group