Photo Retouching | Before & After

Let’s talk about photo retouching.

My background is as a photojournalist where simply moving a water bottle off of a table BEFORE taking the photo is taboo. But weddings and portraits have different rules and after photographing them exclusively for over 12 years I have learned a few tricks.

While my photo retouching skills are still fairly limited (sorry, I can’t add any rainbows or place you by a waterfall) I have learned how to smooth skin, remove items from the background such as telephone poles, and even go so far as to face-swap for my family portraits. My favorite retouching skills are still black and white conversions and a few artistic edits that look WAY better than your iPhone filters.

Primarily a service I provide to my family, newborn, and high school senior clients I do routinely do the item removal & artistic edits for my wedding and engagement portraits too.

While proper lighting and posing is still preferred over spending hours in PhotoShop retouching photos, here are a few examples of the services I do offer – just in case you need them:


Before & After | On the left is the edited photo with a scratch removed, shadows lightened, and skin softened.

Photo Retouching | Smoothing Skin

Great for evening out skin tone and removing imperfections, I painstakingly provide this custom service for any prints 11×14 and larger.

This is not a filter, think of it more like digital makeup that I apply to each photo. I can remove little scratches, acne, and even add in hair. But touching up roots is a little too advanced for me so I strongly recommend a visit to the hair salon BEFORE your session.

Want to look good without retouching? I know a great makeup artist, tell Kim I referred you!

Before & After | On the right is the edited photo with my assistant removed, a warm tone applied, and a dark vignette added to the edges.



Photo Retouching | Item Removal

Sometimes the perfect angle and light doesn’t always have the perfect background. The city posts a “No Trespassing” sign we’d rather not have in the background, someone wanders through the background, or my assistant isn’t able to get out of the way fast enough.

This is another custom photo retouching service I offer for 11×14 prints and larger as I carefully clone, copy, or erase unwanted items from your photos. 

Wedding clients: I offer this service complimentary for your albums too!


Before & After | On the right you can see where I swapped everyone’s head except for dad, and kept the bodies the same.

Photo Retouching | Face Swapping

I have perfected this skill primarily for my families because let’s be honest – if you have more than one kid it is nearly impossible to get EVERYONE perfect in a photo.

So when I edit I always pay attention to facial expressions & poses, if someone has their eyes closed in a photo but everything else is perfect no problem – I can swap in their eyes from another photo in that sequence. Mom looked away? No problem, I can swap in her entire head! This service is available for prints 12×18 and larger.

Quick note: adding missing family members is not in my skill set and can be very challenging to match the lighting so that is not a service I offer.



Before & After | On the left is the original edited photo. On the right a warm edit was done along with a dark vignette added to the edges for a more dramatic portrait.

Photo Retouching | Artistic Edits

This is one of my favorite ways to edit photos.

Similar to your iPhone filters, but with lots more control and a better quality, I can fairly easily make photos B&W, add a warmer & softer tone, a romantic glow to the background, and even add in a sunset. Because this service isn’t quite as time consuming as the rest, I do offer it for any 8×10 prints and larger as well as a couple digitals upon request.

So that about covers all the photo retouching services I offer!

I still prefer to capture moments & the beauty of reality, but my perfectionist side appreciates a little extra polishing from time to time. After all, if you will be looking at it on your wall or desk nearly everyday I don’t want that little scratch to be the only thing you see!


Contact Me if you have any questions & I look forward to seeing you at our next session!

Heather Hughes Photography Studios

733 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Newport News | (757) 870-4006 | 5560 Foundation St., Williamsburg

- by appointment only -


Voted the Knot’s “Best of Wedding Photographers” | WeddingWire’s “Couples Choice” Award 2008 - 2020 | Virginia Living Magazine's "Top Wedding Vendor" 2015- 2020 | VA Small Newspaper Photographer of the Year | Wedding Photojournalist Assoc. Blue Medallion Award