Editing Headshot Photography in Photoshop

Headshot photography involves making the person’s face the focus of the image. It is often compared to a portrait. However, a portrait includes elements of the person’s life which helps portray the person. On the other hand, a headshot only involves the person’s face and features. Although a headshot is similar to a mug shot, it allows the photographer a greater range of creativity, from simple to more stylized work.

In a headshot, the subject faces the camera almost straight on with a neutral facial expression. These are commonly found and used in the entertainment industry, as an important part of the resume when applying for a job in the field. Photoshop is one of the most important tools used when editing headshots. The following are tools and techniques commonly used.

Basic Tips when Editing Images

When working with large RAW images, zoom in and out of the image every once in a while to get a better glimpse of whether the effects look natural. Before attempting to edit the image, create a duplicate layer of the image so that the original will not be affected with any modifications. Remember to save changes every few minutes.

Modifying the Background

In some cases, the camera may capture dust or specks in the background. When it comes to headshots, all the attention must be on the face of the subject. The background must remain simple and clean so as not to divert the viewer’s attention away from the face. To remove any unwanted specks or dust particles, editors use the Patch Tool found on the program’s toolbox, located at the leftmost part of the screen. First select the area to be edited, then select a similar area nearby which will be used to patch over the area being edited.

Removing Blemishes

As the headshot presents the applicant in the best light, it is important to make it look in the best way possible. Removing some of the blemishes and imperfections makes the face cleaner. Use the Patch Tool to achieve the same effect. It is important to note that not all blemishes or imperfections should be removed, as these can also make the image appear unnatural. To make the eyes appear whiter, select the white areas. From the Layer menu, select New Adjustment Layer then Curves. This will open a new layer and window.

From the Curves window, find the Blue curve and pull it up slightly. This will make the selected area appear pink. Choose the Red curve and bring it down a bit to make it appear whiter. Clicking Auto may change some of the colors, highlights and shadows of the entire image. Fine tune the colors by moving the various curves for a more natural effect.

Adding Highlights and Shadows

Create a new blank layer and place it under Soft Light blend mode. Make sure that the black and white colors are selected with a 3% Flow. The Flow bar can be found at the top portion of the screen. Choose a big paintbrush of about 800 pixels to make the work much easier and quicker with 0% hardness. Add shadows along the outline of the face and along the edges of the person’s clothing. When finished, press X to access the Dodge tool. Go across the hair areas to highlight them.