before and after

M.N. Before

M.N After


A very special young lady asked me to shoot her senior portraits. I don’t shoot a lot of portraits but, she is a great kid and she, her sister, and her mom have very kind to me over the last few months. So, I did not hesitate to say yes.

The shoot was a lot of fun. We shot at a couple outdoor locations and I ended up with quite a lot of images. After the shoot, Her mother joined us and we sat down and sifted through the raw images to cull out the bad ones (there are always bad ones).

Post processing included my standard color and contrast adjustments.  However her mother had asked me to take a shot at her severe acne on a few of the images. I thought it was a good idea to show her how the rest of us saw her. The big but here is that I firmly believe that people are unique and beautiful as they are. I didn’t want to completely eradicate her acne because I wanted her images to reflect her true self. On the flip side, as anybody would, she wanted to look her best. I had a fine line to walk.


Here is how I approached the post processing in PhotoShop.

1. I made a duplicate layer of the original image to protect the original.

2. I performed my normal curves adjustment for color and contrast.

3. I then used the healing and clone tools to remove the worst of the spots. I also brightened the teeth just a bit.

4. I then duplicated the layer from step 3 and made a levels adjustment to the red channel only. The adjustment amounted to moving the lightness slider all the way to the right. I then masked out the lips and other areas that I did not want effected. I set the layer blending mode to luminosity. This removed most of the red splotchyness from the skin.

5. I then merged the layers from steps 3 and 4 and duplicated the resulting layer.

6. I applied a heavy gaussian blur to the new layer and set its blending mode to overlay. This smoothed the scaring to the skin without completely eliminating it. Once again, I merged this layer with the layer in step 5.

7. I created a new empty layer and filled it with black, setting the blend mode to soft light.

8. I then merged all of the remaining layers and saved the new version of the image.


How did I do? Was I successful in walking the fine line? I would be interested in what you think of the final image. 


2 thoughts on “before and after

  1. You did an absolutely beautiful job! You are correct. Each and everyone of us is unique and beautiful…but sometimes…sometimes a person needs to see what others see and surprise surprise…it’s not always the same reflection we ourselves see when we look in a mirror. You gave her the ability to see herself as the beautiful, sweet, incredible individual that the rest of us have ALWAYS seen. We see the real person…the person within…and you caught that in such a spectacular way. Thank you Thank you Thank you! The smile on her face when she looks through those pictures…when she shows them with pride (those you touched up and those you didn’t) In there lies the real gift.


  2. Melissa, thank you for your heart felt comments. She is just a beautiful person inside and out and she brings light into this world. I know that you are very proud of her and you should be. It takes a great mom to raise such a great young woman.


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