Lightroom Tips

Inspiration Day – 3 Retouching Links

Lightroom can do a lot right? But, as we all know, it can’t do everything. One of the most common questions I get asked is when/why I move to Photoshop. Wanna know the main thing that Photoshop can do that Lightroom can’t? Retouching. To that end, I thought I’d share 3 inspirational retouching links that I’ve come across recently. I really dig those before and after sites and I think these deliver not only good inspirational value, but they can also be educational as you look into the mind of a retoucher. Here goes:

1) Glenn Feron – Glenn has a huge body of work and he shows the before and after for each of his images. You’ll find lots of models and portraits but you’ll also come across some cool product photography as well.

2) Sugar Digital – This one is probably the least of the traditional retouching sites that you’ll find but it’s probably one of my favorite. They’ve got a good mix of retouching as well as some really dramatic compositing. These are definitely things that Lightroom is just not good at, so you’d need to move to Photoshop to accomplish any of this work.

3) Amy Dresser – I love this site! Not all of the images have before and afters but the ones that do are incredibly educational. The ones that don’t… well they’re just flat out inspiring as well.

Well that wraps up inspiration day. I know there’s more then 3 cool retouching sites out there so make sure you leave a comment and let us all know your favorite retouching site. (Update: make sure you check out the comments as I’ve left my thoughts on some posts from other people there)
See you tomorrow to close out the week.



  1. Mark 14 May, 2008 at 15:21 Reply

    Great linkage! I found Feron’s stuff to be AMAZING!!! not b/c that’s what I think women need to look like, but b/c I get to see the before and after.
    I’m a Photoshop Junkie, and I can’t get enough of it. Seeing the “extreme-ness” of his retouching is eye opening to say the least.

    As someone stated above, these aren’t your family photo pictures. These are for ads, and everyone knows, the sexier the better b/c it’s more attention grabbing. You don’t have to like that rule, but it exists and it’s real. Feron is simply doing what he’s being paid to do, and he does it amazingly well.

    I would love to watch him from beginning to end to see how he does it. I can get close in many respects, but I don’t know if I could pull of the final look like he does.

    But it is true, that young girls are harming themselves to look as glamerous as the women in the ads and the way magazines portray them. It’s sad, but I don’t think that Feron is the one responsible.
    I think that girls in high school should be given before and after classes using Feron’s examples to show what those “gorgeous” models in the ads really look like before several hours (days?) of computer manipulation. It would open their eyes.

  2. Irene Strowe 14 May, 2008 at 03:26 Reply

    I have to agree with PJZ – Feron’s stuff is really too extreme. It’s not just the skin smoothing rather the extreme changing of body parts – eyes and ears for example.

    If these were being sold as a portrait to the actual person the first reaction might be “fantastic”, but then they would see how unreal the image of themselves had been made.

    I personally would be mad at the photographer for insulting me about the size of my ears and that they were arbitrarily changed. Even for fashion/glamour work I think Feron’s work is too much.

    It is amazing to see what they can do, but that was the way it was when retouchers were working on negatives.

  3. Kent Daiber 10 May, 2008 at 19:20 Reply

    OK, after looking at Feron’s B&As I realize that Adobe has ripped me off because I can’t find the “Bigger Boobs” brush on my version of CS3!

    Seriously, to some of the points above, if these photogs didn’t allow us to see the Before, you (or most people anyway) would accept the After as what came out of the camera — that’s the way the human mind works. I don’t particularly care for the style of any of these folks, but it’s certainly of a genre that we encounter every day in magazines, on TV, etc. so it’s generous of them, in a way, to let those of us who are interested in the “under the hood” part of all of this get a glimpse.

  4. Cindy Smith 9 May, 2008 at 11:53 Reply

    Hi Folks,
    I am a high school art/photography teacher and I agree with everything about the above post. Lucky for me, I will be showing these sites in my very next class as they illustrate (pun intended,perhaps) everything about Photoshop, beauty, the fashion industry and the myths. Great before and afters will lead to a lively discussion. Thanks so much for a great lesson.

    Cindy Smith

  5. Alex H. 9 May, 2008 at 06:24 Reply

    I find such Feron-style manipulations ridiculous. There is about nothing real to them, might as well use a computer generated picture. For me, this has nothing to do with photography at all. Truly ludicrous.

    But the most stupidest (sic) thing is that enough dumb people actually believe what they see in these images. The result: a beauty craze that drives people into plastic surgery, eating disorders and depression.


    Alex H.

  6. Riron 8 May, 2008 at 16:02 Reply

    Thank you for opening up my eyes to this work. I agree that some of the manipulation is extreme but look at what it’s being used for. These are not family albums. This is mostly for high gloss advertising and magazines where ‘the man’ is selling a dream not reality.

    Keep up the great work Matt.


  7. PJZ 8 May, 2008 at 14:21 Reply

    Thanks for the response Matt.

    I agree that what he can do is amazing. He makes changing the direction of limbs (angles that don’t even exist in the photo) look seamless.

    I guess I’m just hyper-sensitive to it since you hear most retouching teachers / books talk about subtlety.

    Great post though.

  8. Ramelli 8 May, 2008 at 13:42 Reply

    Hello Matt,

    A little hello from paris, I have been doing a lot of training on retouching learning from you, dave and scott, you guys are brilliant with your help I have boost my business way up as a photographer, you can see some of the result here :

    Tks again, I hope I will get to one of your seminar one day, ever planned on coming to paris ?

  9. Michael J. Titera 8 May, 2008 at 13:29 Reply

    Thanks, Matt!

    I really like the idea that you don’t always have to spend thousands on a studio and lighting. Photoshop, and Lightroom, really open the possibilities!

    Thanks much,

    Michael J. Titera

  10. David Goen 8 May, 2008 at 11:50 Reply

    I should clarify that I don’t find “departures from reality,” as Ansel Adams put it, inherently offensive. The role of photography has usually been, Joel Peter Witkin and Diane Arbus aside, to present people and objects in their most favorable light.

    Photography has always lied about reality, even if it’s just choosing what to show in the frame and what to leave out.

    What I’m objecting to is the garish manipulation of people to the cartoonish degrees shown in these websites. After all, in these examples we are talking about models, and their looks aren’t good enough without massive manipulation beyond any semblance of human anatomy? Removing some acne or a mole is one thing, making bad paintings is something else.

  11. Seim Effects 8 May, 2008 at 11:13 Reply

    Thanks for the links Matt.

    I love PS for that final magic. I run actions for glows, and those finishing touches that I can’t do in LR

    LR is doing more all the time though, making me have to do less in PS


  12. David Goen 8 May, 2008 at 10:53 Reply

    I really despise this current fad of retouching to the point of making photographs into the equivalent of black velvet paintings. I don’t care how much skill it shows for the retoucher; it renders women (and the occasional man) into some Barbie interpretation of femininity that is cloying and insulting.

    The Buggle’s had it right all of those years ago: we’re “Living in the Plastic Age.” Except that three decades on it’s geometrically worse. Have we all grown so pathetically shallow that a real woman can’t look attractive any more?

    That was, in my opinion, precisely the point of the Annie Leibovitz photos of Milely Cyrus: the scandal is that she is portrayed as a real girl, with minimal makeup, instead of the plastic and over stylized Disney product she is meant to be. Too much reality there, right?

  13. mattk 8 May, 2008 at 10:37 Reply

    Hey guys,
    A couple of thoughts:

    1) I kind of agree about the plastic-yness of the retouching. However, I think my draw to the photos is the learning aspect of it. I love to see the before and afters. Sure the skin looks like a cartoon but look at all of the other details and distractions that used to exist. Lips, folds in clothing, flyaway hair, tilted shoes or backgrounds that weren’t really there. These are all distractions that need to be dealt with. It makes me feel better to know that these photographs weren’t taken in some humongous studio that I’ll never have. To see that they were shot in smaller settings and then Photoshop was used to render the rest of the background or flooring, I guess makes me feel better.

    2) Like it or not, this is the type of work being done by a lot of pro retouchers today. I’ve talked to a lot of senior photographers as well as my younger nieces and nephews and they LOVE this stuff.

    So… to PJZ – Nope you’re not crazy. I linked to Glenn’s stuff because it’s the whole picture and what was done to it that catches my eye. I can overlook the cartoon skin to learn from the rest of what he does.

    Thanks for participating in the comments.
    Matt K

  14. Scott Jones 8 May, 2008 at 10:25 Reply

    Welllll, looked at all three sites. These techniques seem to render photos almost as illustrations. Skin looks plastic-y and everything is just so hyped up and gleaming. Certainly a high skill level in doing this, but to what end? Its funny ya know, it seems like we can only portray women and some men as totally unrealistic in print now. I am not against all retouching, but it seems like we are just now churning out, as one responder above put it, cartoons.

    Love your blog and even found this entry interesting.

  15. PJZ 8 May, 2008 at 10:07 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I’m on the opposite end of what Paulo said above.

    Sugar Digital and Amy are about as good as you can get in the industry.

    But every time I come across Glenn’s stuff….I can’t understand how people like it. I think he’s got great technique…but there’s so MUCH of it.

    People don’t like natural in the least. Everyone has flawless skin and not a hint of wrinkles under the eyes. Almost cartoonish.

    Yet a lot of people link to this guy…even you 🙂

    Am I crazy?

  16. Paulo Jordao 8 May, 2008 at 02:20 Reply

    Hi Matt… I liked the effects that I saw at the Glenn Ferron’s page, but I was not crazy about the effects that I saw at the other tow photographers…
    But, thanks for the links.
    Paulo Jordao

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *