Click the arrows on the image below to see before & after!
I wish someone had told 11 year-old-Jeannie that the advertisement photos I saw in magazines weren't real. Consequently, I grew up believing I had ugly skin. I remember staring at these models/actresses faces as close as I could get to the page and thinking... but there are still pores there, so it has to be real; so how does her skin look like that?
Now I know the process firsthand. It's meticulous. Like, obnoxiously meticulous. Like, I spend an hour on a single shot to make it look like that. Honestly, all it is to me now is a weird form of art. And editing these images is rather therapeutic BECAUSE I understand it's not reality and not some insane beauty standard. This model is exquisite. Olivia had all of us on set just in awe. So retouching her image was not about "fixing" her face. It's about simplifying all the things in an image (which usually includes the clothing and backgrounds too) to show a feeling or draw attention to the point of the image. In this particular image, that focus is the earring. But I want other youngsters to understand and see it for what it is.
Great painters undoubtedly did the same thing when commissioned to paint a portrait. Was the point to paint-in every zit and scar and tiny wrinkle? Naahhh, the point of the painting is the person, their eyes, their expression. What happens on our skin's surface is subject to change, and it's about an audience looking past that and to the essence of the person or the story.
I know many disagree with retouching, and I do too when we get into a certain level of it, and those opinions are valid; it can indeed be damaging (like it was for confused baby Jeannie). And one of my goals with photography is to remind people (or in some cases, tell them for the first time) how beautiful they are. I also love truth... and the truth is nobody's walking around out there with skin like this final image. And, remember kids: in the end, don't ever let your definition of beauty be only skin-deep.