Scroll Top

Inside the Professional Portrait Retouching Workflow

It's rare to see a professional imagery without retouching and post-production

What Is Professional Portrait Retouching

Professional portrait retouching is the critical post-production stage for developing great photography. In fact, many professional photographers outsource their retouching work to professional retouch artists. If I told you nothing else, that should give you some insight to the value creation of professional portraiture. Like any critical stage in a manufacturing process, the professional retouching adds that signature ingredient that makes the image stand out from a crowd of visual noise. In this article, I am opening the kimono on the MADEGRANDBYCAM Portrait Retouching and Post-Production process. If you’re a photographer, you can compare notes and adopt any of my practices for your own. However, for my clients and models, this is the behind-the-scenes picture of what happens after you leave our creative experience.

Professional Photographers Start Post-Production Before the Shoot

I rarely go into a shoot without a pre-visualized and documented plan of my shoot. My previz package includes the following my mood boards and creative direction for the following: my lighting, my subject, my space, my styling, and my story. To paraphrase, Capital One, “that’s a lot of my’s!” When it comes to image making, the photographer has to own the creative process and its outcomes. Great portraits or bad portraits start and end with the photographer’s creative vision. For me, I start the shoot with a vision for what I’m ready to produce.  There are always exceptions. However, you don’t build a professional practice on exceptions.
By starting with a pre-visualized plan, adjustments can be made during the production based on the current situation. Somethings may not work in a practical application. In other cases, a shift in tactics can yield a better result. More than anything, I’m passionate about building rapport with my subject and my creative team to foster serendipitous events. A spur of the moment insight can produce something incredible.

Taking a Multi-Tiered Approach to Portrait Retouching

After the shoot, the portrait retouching alchemy begins. For MADEGRANDBYCAM, we’ve broken our professional portrait retouching workflow into three distinct and elevating tiers.

  1. Standard Retouching

    Our Standard Retouching is a comprehensive portraiture development. This includes our initial image processing, portrait retouching, and finishing. We placed all of the core photographic requirements in our standard portrait image. You don’t have to ask for professional retouching for your portraits. From the beginning, we made a decision that every MADEGRANDBYCAM portrait would be amazing. That’s our standard. In a nutshell, our position is that you should expect amazing portraits. Our standard portrait retouching exceeds the requirements of over 90% of our clientele.
    Learn more: Standard Retouch Workflows in How I Retouch Portraits Without Make People Look Unnatural

  2. Advanced Retouching

    With incredible value in our Standard Retouching Workflow, why does an Advanced Retouching Workflow tier exists? The Advanced Retouching provides narrative-based edits and stylized edits. Narrative Edits can be anything from detailed fashion retouching to replacing people or distracting backgrounds with more engaging content. Our Stylized Edits are dictated by the production itself. Some in-camera shoots require more extensive post-production to create a single image. Our Advanced Retouching makes your heroic moment even more impactful.
    Learn more: Narrative Edit Retouching in Transforming Crowded Beach Photography Into an Epic Shot

  3. Made Grand Alchemy

    The Made Grand Alchemy (MGA) is our elite professional portrait retouching tier. For our most discriminating clients, MGA portrait retouching offers two distinct transformative retouching products: PhotoGenesis™ and Cinemagic™. PhotoGenesis™ takes the final image from our Standard or Advanced Retouching and creates a new signature image that’s impossible to produce in-camera. Cinemagic™ transforms images into an immersive motion-driven experience. This level of professional portrait retouching is reserved for clients that are building an Immortal Brand or an heirloom for their legacy.
    Learn more: PhotoGenesis™ Retouching in Her Wonder Milk Bath Series
    Learn more: Cinemagic™ Retouching in Her Wonder Heat Series

What Is Professional Portrait Retouching Cam Evans MADEGRANDBYCAM
Professional Portrait Retouching Workflow by Cam Evans

Creating A New Look for Immortal Headshots

Let’s face it, the traditional headshot is boring. That’s why we created Immortal Headshots. Immortal Headshots are bespoke personal branding portraits. Our favorite headshots leverage our Made Grand Alchemy for retouching. The image of above is a stylized headshot that is an advance composite of elements that didn’t exist during the shoot. For example, the target bulls-eye in this image was created from the tones in Shelby’s skin and clothing. This cropped version of the portrait uses the Golden Ratio to create a balanced image.  The new elements and additional processing pushes headshots portraits like these beyond our Standard Retouching.

Why Is Professional Portrait Retouching Important

Photography portfolios are like a greatest hits album. Every shot is incredible! However, if you listen to the whole album that your favorite hit was released, there are many standard songs. The whole album isn’t chocked full of hit singles. Those songs that never charted are like standard images. They are complete, well-produced works that hold the entire album together as a published work.
However, the photographer’s portfolio is flushed with images that have advanced or higher levels of retouching.  These are the images that draw you into a photographer’s work. That said, if you want a cover-worthy hit, it’s rarely a standard product.
MADEGRANDBYCAM is different. Every portrait shoot should feel like you’re making Songs in the Key of Life,  Thriller, Rhythm Nation, Purple Rain, Abbey Road, or The Chronic. Each image should stand on its own and fit into a cohesive visual narrative. That’s why are Standard Retouching, included with every portrait, is simply amazing.  Even more, our Signature Series Collections includes Advanced Retouching and Made Grand Alchemy because the shoots are designed as chapters in your life’s odyssey.
Now that you know more about retouching, let’s make your epic portrait. Make an appointment here.

Follow @MADEGRANDBYCAM to Learn More About Professional Portrait Retouching

Connect with us on our Instagram at




Related Posts

How can we help you grow your business?