Danella Lucioni wrote: A photographer once gave me a nose job and an eye lift. Doesn't really help build my portfolio at all, and not like a need that type of surgery anyway.
Please don't do that to your models!
I'd say that depends on who ultimately is using the photo. If it is the model, then don't do something s/he would find disturbingly unlike her/himself. But if it's for the photographer or a third-party client, then the model really doesn't have much say in the matter.
i'm just starting out as a photographer and i'm also learning about retouching and whatnot, i found this thread to be really helpful but would also like to add something in.
being a model as well i really dislike it when i get photos back that have been edited so much that i don't even look like myself anymore. when i do retouching i think of what my mom used to tell me about make up, "you want to look good without it looking obvious that you have any on". so i try to improve the overall appearance without it being obvious that it was edited. you want to capture what the person looks like, not what you want them to look like. the only things i remove are blemishes, those are temporary and no one wants to remember they had that zit on their chin anyway. but things like scars, birth marks, other permanent marks, i think it's ok to reduce their appearance (i.e. lightening a dark birthmark, reducing the redness of a scar) if they are really distracting but i don't remove them completely.
I shoot raw, so retouching is almost always essential. There is no hard and fast rule and each image gets whatever attention it needs. Maybe "don't go overboard" is a good general rule.
I'm always amused by those who say 'I never retouch' as though it was some indication of superior technique. The camera is a tool and doesn't always capture the image you have in mind or the scene that you originally observed, especially as different cameras render the same scene differently. Even the best equipment has its limitations and using an editing program to fill in what the camera didn't capture or for which it couldn't compensate is not an indication of poor techniques.
People who know what they are doing should retouch, those who don't shouldn't. It is simple. Any image can be improved with skillful retouching, and any image can be destroyed with bad retouching. I guess it also matters what one means when they say "retouching", but that's another can of worms that doesn't need opening at this time.
To me photography is about catching nature and light. How much you can do to control the composition of a shot varies widely from studio shooting to open air event shooting. Having said that you would like to control as much of the environment as you can from lighting, model appearance, pose, ambiance, on and on. The more of this you can do up front the better the chances that you will come away with a shot that will stand on its own right out of the camera. Sometimes when things don't go as planned, camera settings, lights, model position, the dreaded lingerie label or stray hairs, on and on, then you can augment or "fix' the picture in post-processing. In other words, I use it to enhance or bring the picture to what I had in mind but was not able to capture.
And then there are the instances when post-production becomes an intentional part of the shot. In other words, you compose the shot knowing that you are going to use a certain effect in your favorite software to enhance the picture to your vision. Such is the case with Infrared photography. Or sometimes I will underexpose the subject against a bright backdrop so I can create a high key effect with the subject in post-production. The great film photogs such as Ansel Adams always composed their picture based on the chemicals and paper they planned to use in the lab. So even the greats relied on post-processing. Digital photogs simply exchanged the lab for photoshop.
Hope that makes sense. I was just trying to kill time while I finished this large upload to my website...
Not sure who but some media reports about magazine images being over retouched this was probably complaints by the public reported to the 'Advertising Standards Authority', the one that comes to mind being the 'Dove' campaign or M&S TV advert in the UK with model Twiggy.
But I've still life images where a friend who works in cgi was convinced the the image was cgi !
Also recently a head shot/beauty, the make up artist did an incredible job and the retouch in minimal. The model stated her agency may be reluctant to use the shot as they may think it's an over retouched image.
And that could be the dilemma carefully crafted images be it lighting or MUA people may well think the image has been heavily manipulated.