John DeMato - NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

NYC Branded Lifestyle Photographer - Blog

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photography Blog | Hi, I'm John DeMato, and I collaborate with thought leaders to create powerful, purposeful and authentic images. This is my blog where I talk all about the magic behind the portraits we create.

When retouching goes wrong


Oh, the conversations I've had about retouching.


It’s always awesome to have clients on the same page with me, especially when it involves a very important subject such as retouching.


The other day I was on the phone with a client, and we were discussing the protocol regarding their upcoming branded lifestyle portrait session.

While we discussed shooting logistics, wardrobe, props and other important details related to her session, the subject of retouching came up.

On some occasions, this is where I get on my soapbox and feel compelled to rant about how heavy-duty retouching is problematic for the type of work they do, she immediately offered this thought:

“I don’t want a lot of retouching on my shots because then those photos are not authentic to me.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I smiled as I heard her say this, :)

Regardless of your expertise, every thought leader, in some shape or form, is preaching a variation of showing up authentically in your life. When you have a message that fits this mold, it’s important that you walk the same walk in your own life.

When you take this approach regarding the retouching of the photos in your image content portfolio, you are aligned with the authenticity of your purpose and passion.

Now, don’t get me wrong - some cleanup work is totally fine.

If we’re talking a couple blemishes, such as pimples on the face or a couple rouge strands of hair flapping around, I would be the first person to suggest removing those from the shot.

But, if we’re talking about minor, facial reconstructive surgery through Photoshop where I’m removing 20 years off of your face or slimming 15 pounds off your body, well shit, that’s another story entirely.

That’s a story that I never want to tell.

Rather than spend a ton of time debating what we need to do with the photos after the fact, I work with my clients mindset beforehand in order to have them feel comfortable, confident and ready to work when it’s time to go.

I inspire them to focus on aspects of their lives that gets them feeling good about where they are with their lives and businesses in order to help them get past their issues with their appearance.

It’s called building positive, emotional capital, which goes a long way to helping them think beyond their physical hangups.  I talk more about how to build positive, emotional capital in this article.

I then reinforce this sentiment by reminding them of the power of their posts.

Their tribe is made up of people who look to them for help to get past what’s holding them back in their lives. They seek guidance, advice and inspiration.  And, a lot of this is provided to them in the form of their social posts that include stories that inspire and educate.

But, what if you never posted anything because you were not feeling good about the image content that you have based on your appearance in those photos? 

That means you’re allowing your vanity to override the value you provide to those who want and need to hear what you have to say, which completely contradicts your purpose. 

Long story short, there must be a balance between your vanity and the value that these photos carry for your followers.   

Is this an easy balance to find? For some, it’s inherent, for others, it’s a challenge that must be worked on every single day. 

Regardless, when you own who you are, inside and out - you positively affect other people’s lives authentically, purposefully and powerfully. 

What’s more beautiful than that?

PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you, because I care, :)