Photographing Challenging Features


Lesson Info

Retouching: Brighten Face & Whiten Teeth

All right, let's take a look at Andrew, that we're photographing here. So, I got this pretty close in camera to what I wanted, meaning I darkened down the top of his head, and I don't feel like I'm drawn to the top of his head. I feel like I'm drawn to his eyes and to his expression. So I got pretty close, but there's a few things that I would want to improve. So what we're gonna do, is we are actually going to lighten and darken things, just to control the eye a little bit more, and so my point of it is this, in camera, I lighten and darken things to control the eye with my lighting. Sometimes I just don't get quite where I want it to be. So for example, I still think maybe I'm looking a little bit here, right, just a tiny bit. I'm not looking at the baldness at the top of the head, but I'm looking like right here, on the forehead. It's just a little bit lighter. So what I wanna do, is I actually want to draw attention to the center of his face. So I am going to, there's 10 different ...

ways to do this, so I'm just gonna give you an example. I'm gonna select the center of his face, let's say it's like here, and I'm gonna lighten it up a bit. So I'm just gonna, I selected it with a lasso tool, and I select Modify, Feather, and it's Feather at 55, and I'm going to grab an adjustment layer, I'm just going to lighten it up. You could do curves, you could do levels, it depends on what you're comfortable with. More people are comfortable with levels for some reason, so we'll just lighten that up a little bit. So I'm just brightening it up, and increasing the contrast. So your eye goes to several places in a photo. It goes to areas of contrast, it goes to areas that are bright, it goes to areas that are colorful, and so, just by brightening it up a little bit, it actually brings your eye more towards the center of his face, and you could of, of course, you can always feather this if it's too abrupt, but then I can actually go in, and if there's too much attention to the top of his head, I could select it, Feather it, and then I could do the same thing, and then just darken it down, and, you know, it got a little bit off the top of his head here, I can fix that. But just those little changes, like it brings me more to the center of his face, right, and it brings the attention more where it's supposed to be. So in most of my photos, I do this in some way. I go in, and say where's the eye being drawn? Can I darken that down a little bit, maybe de-saturate it a little bit, and then, can I lighten up and increase the contrast where I'm supposed to look? So keep that in mind, it might be something as subtle as that, and guess what, this what I did with my lighting, I just had to take it a little bit further in post. So it's not really re-touching, but it is, it's the proof process and that helps, and it's achieving flattering him because of the balding. One other tip I just wanted to give while I have him up here would just be a quick fix for whitening teeth. With the lasso tool, I'm going to select his teeth. Same thing, I can Feather it, select Modify, Feather, and I'm going to go to my adjustment layers and grab hue saturation. What I can then do, is I can grab my little pointer finger thing, select his teeth, and I can try to see if it de-saturates. Of course, what it told me is where I clicked was a little bit red, so it de-saturated everything. So instead of clicking, what I'm gonna do this time is I'm gonna try yellows. Next to where the little finger is, you can actually select specific color channels. So I can say, well I don't really want to de-saturate everything, 'cause I don't want his teeth to look totally gray, I just want them to not look yellow. So we're gonna try this, I'm gonna click on yellow, and I'm gonna de-saturate just a little bit, and so notice, look, it didn't effect everything, it just effected the yellow in the teeth. So if you look before and after, you know, it makes a pretty big difference. The one thing you want to be careful of is if you do this, lot of times when you pull out the yellow, then it just looks gray. So you have to pull out the yellow, but also lighten it up a bit. One thing you could try is this lightness here, you can try lightening it up a little bit here, that works a bit. So let's take a look at that before after, or you could go in again, selectively, and do another adjustment layer with layer mask. So a lot of the retouching I'm doing, is not necessarily skin, it's things like this, lightening and darkening things, changing a little bit of color. So so far with him, okay, and let's pop this out, okay. More attention to the center of his face. One other thing that I would definitely do to this photo is I would lighten up the eyes. Right, I'm just, where do I want the attention to go, I want the attention to his eyes. There's many ways to do that.

Photographers are tasked with flattering every subject that steps in front of their lens. Typically, those subjects are everyday people, not professional models. This can mean working with some challenging features along with varying degrees of confidence. Canon Explorer of Light and well-known fashion photographer Lindsay Adler walks through understanding the face and body as well as the photographic tools available to you make your clients best side shine. These features could range from a pronounced nose, large forehead, glasses, asymmetrical features, or defined wrinkles. In this course Lindsay will walk you through: 

  • How to analyze a face and draw attention to the strengths within it 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for challenging facial features 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for the skin and body 
  • Retouching tips for skin, glasses or discolored teeth 
This course will cover many challenging features and show you how posing, camera angles, lens choice and lighting can work together to help you have confidence in every shoot.



  • This class was amazing! It was great seeing a demo class with real people. As a wedding photographer that specializes in offbeat/non traditional couples, it is always good to see how I can enhance all my clients beautiful features, and make them feel their best and confident when I am taking their photos!
  • I was so excited to get the chance to learn from Lindsay live, and this course did not disappoint! The techniques she shared were insightful and straightforward. I felt like seeing them on different subjects throughout the day really helped to cement the concepts and grow my photography tools to bring out the best in those I'm photographing. I'm not a studio photographer, but the ideas apply in natural light as well.
  • More than great, you are awesome teacher, thanks a lot!