Headshot Retouching workflow

In general, I try to minimize the amount of editing and retouching needed after a photo shoot.  However, for certain type of photos such as head shots, retouching is an inevitable part of the work flow.  The key to retouching a head shot is to keep everything look as natural as possible, by doing a lot of minor tweaking and adjustments.  It is a time-consuming process and it takes a long time to develop a proper work flow.  I am aware of software that claim to be able to retouch an image in minutes and I have tried some of them.  But I still prefer the good-old Photoshop because it provides the ultimate flexibility and versatility. Here are the major steps I take to retouch a head shot:

  1. Adjust white balance and exposure
  2. Fix obvious flaw on skin using the clone stamp tool
  3. Clean up the skin
  4. Add highlight and shadow
  5. Clean up the eyes, lips, sharpen accessories

I recently did an Indian makeup shot for a local makeup artist, here are the before and after pictures using the above retouching workflow: