To Retouch or Not to Retouch

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on February 16, 2010 – 12:16 am
Fashion Photographer, Photography

Beverly in the 1970's

Photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders opted for “no retouching” in his 8×10 photographs of supermodels from the ’70s and ’80s for his show now on view at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City. “Some of these women have electively turned back ‘time,'” he writes. “In a sense, they arrived at the studio already ‘photo-shopped.’ And that’s beyond my control. But how I shoot, my lighting, my choice of camera and lens, that’s all my decision. Blame me if you think I should have retouched and retouched and retouched, but I think these women look beautiful just the way they are.”

Beverly Johnson made fashion history as the first black cover model of Vogue in August, 1974. Photograph by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

You can read more about his techniques and decisions here.

Interesting thoughts…?

Jerry Avenaim

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4 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Heinz Schmidt Said:

    Hi Jerry,

    I personally think that retouching should ‘enhance’. Women (and some men) use makeup to hide features of the face that are not ‘desirable’, as prescribed by society and the fashion of the time.

    Back in the 70s and 80s retouching wasn’t done to the level it is today. Retouching the images of these ’70s and 80s’ models to today’s standard might infringe on some ethical/moral level, but if the retouching covers up/enhances some feature or flaw that could have been handled by makeup back then, then I think it’s ok.

    Taking it to the other extreme and turning these women into plastic barbie dolls just doesn’t seem right.

    I love retouching when done well and I also love an image where no retouching was applied as it shows the true character, the age, the lines and the wisdom in the person’s face.

    If I ever get a portrait done of myself, I would insist on retouching as there’s little wisdom to be revealed, just too much sunburn.



    Mark Jenner Reply:

    Hi Jerry,
    I pretty much go along with many of the comments made by Heinz. Like just about all things in life there is a time and a place for retouching. Yes, this picture is great as it is. And for sure the over retouched plastic model look is never a good one!


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