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How to Retouch Digital Wedding Photography

As you retouch your digital wedding photos, it is important to remember that you don’t want your edits to be obvious. The goal in this process is to tweak an image just enough that it improves the final result but keeps the natural appearance.

Compare the portraits below; in the retouched image the editor smoothed the subject’s skin and sharpened her eyes, and then lightly sharpened the entire photo to improve the overall effect while keeping the photo looking natural.

[Credit: 40mm, 1/320 sec., f/2.8, 100]
Credit: 40mm, 1/320 sec., f/2.8, 100

The most common types of retouching to do on wedding photos are removing blemishes, smoothing skin, and enhancing eyes.

How to remove blemishes in digital wedding photography

As too many know, even people who follow rigorous skincare regimens occasionally get pesky little blemishes. Fortunately, Photoshop offers an easy fix:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop and zoom in to the area with the blemish you’d like to remove.

    To zoom in to an area in Photoshop, locate and click on the Zoom tool at the bottom of the toolbar, which is found on the left-hand side of your screen, or hit the Z key. Then click on the photo to zoom in.

  2. Find the healing tools (the icon that looks like a Band-Aid), located on the bar on the left-hand side of your screen.

    If you are using Photoshop CS5 and newer, select the Spot Healing Brush Tool by holding down your mouse button on the healing tools icon and clicking on Spot Healing Brush from the menu that appears. Then proceed to Step 3.

    If you’re using an older version of Photoshop, select the Patch tool from the healing tools by holding down your mouse button on the healing tools icon and clicking on Patch Tool from the menu that appears.

  3. If you’re using the Spot Healing Brush Tool, resize the brush that appears as your cursor using the left or right bracket keys so that it’s just a little bit larger than the blemish.

    If you’re using an older version, you can skip this step.

  4. Place your cursor brush over the blemish and click once.

    If your cursor fits over the entire blemish, clicking once will do the job. However, if the blemish is something like a long scratch, you can click and drag your cursor over the entire mark. When you release the mouse button, the blemish disappears. Voilà!

    If you’re using the Patch Tool instead of the Spot Healing Brush Tool, hold down the mouse button and draw a circle around the blemish you’d like to remove. When you release the button, a dotted circle appears around the blemish.

    Click on the selected blemish and drag the mark to another area that has a similar tone and is free of other blemishes. When you let go of the mouse button, the blemish disappears.

How to enhance eyes for your digital wedding photography

The steps for enhancing the eyes in Photoshop are very similar to those for smoothing skin, except that we’re sharpening instead of blurring the image. Here’s how you enhance the eyes in a photograph:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop and create a duplicate layer by hitting Command+J (Mac) or Control+J (Windows).

  2. With the duplicate layer selected, apply an Unsharp Mask Filter by going to Filter →Sharpen →Unsharp Mask.

    A dialog box appears in which you can adjust the amount of sharpening you want with a slider bar.

  3. Play around with the slider until the eyes look right and then click OK.

    You need quite a bit of sharpening to make the eyes pop, but the exact amount depends on how big your file is.

  4. Apply a layer mask to your image by navigating to Layer →Layer Mask →Hide All.

  5. Use a white brush to paint back over the eyes only, which brings out the sharpness in only that area.

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