Have you ever noticed that most people have one eye that's bigger than the other?

Scientists tell us that no one has a really symmetrical face, or, for that matter a symmetrical body. While I left the image above un-retouched to show this it is one of the reasons that I like retouching programs like Portrait Professional. Many people know this software program because of their web advertising in which, I believe, they do themselves a tremendous disservice. The folks who market Portrait Professional like to show off the maximum effects possible with their product so they end up showing "before images" that make people look horrible and then "after pictures" that are totally overdone. Skin goes from rough and scaly to smoother than a baby's butt to as featureless as a Barbie doll. Cheekbones get accentuated like animated elves, lips dramatically increased in size and ballooniness and eyes end up rendered like the eyes in paintings of sad waifs on black velvet. Giant eyes totally out of proportion with faces....

But the actual product is highly controllable and when used by operators with even a modicum of good taste it allows for fast correction of things like mismatched eyes and too many wrinkles. Just because the advertising is over the top doesn't mean the program isn't a valuable tool for portrait photographers!

If you want to go old school then put the smaller eye closer to the lens and put the bigger eye on the highlight side of the lighting configuration. Hard to do if your subject is looking straight into camera.

That's the prescription but in art there is no absolute right or wrong. I routinely leave the eyes the way I found them, only correcting if the mismatch is an obvious impediment to the aesthetic value of the portrait. Accuracy?  We've never done that here and we're not planning to start.

unrelated musing: 

We're starting off 2014 with articles about portraiture but you know it won't last. In a few days, maybe a week we'll be off on some other tangent that will make some of our readers grind their teeth and others nod in agreement. And then there are the tourist readers who drop in unannounced because someone with an agenda has linked to one of the articles that supports their talking points on a forum. At that point all hell breaks loose and I become saint or satan, depending on which side of the argument the visitor's audience embraces.

Will the web change? Doubtful. Will we respond? Well, you may have noticed that we've been moderating comments all year. Saves you from wading through bathos and pathos on a daily basis and it helps keep my blood pressure interesting. I think it just goes with the territory. At least I have you guys here to watch my back....

To everyone else....."HEY! IT'S JUST A CAMERA. IT'S NOT A RELIGION... "


amy said...

I did not know that until you were taking a portrait of me and talked about this. Come to think about it, that was just about a year ago. Happy New Year Kirk!

Carlo Santin said...

Hmm, I like wrinkles and imperfections in my subjects. I'll remove a zit, maybe, depending on the portrait and the context, but I love "as is" portraits more than anything. That gap in Lauren Hutton's front teeth? I would marry that gap.

Nigel said...

I'm no purist about retouching, but this is a lovely picture & if it were my choice I'd leave it as it is.