One of the interesting things about being a professional photographer is that you’re hired because of your vision and creativity (and other things, including reliability, price, value, etc.), but still, in the end, must please the client. When it comes to portraits, especially, the client may want creativity, but only if it flatters the subject. I remember senior portraits from my high school days that made it very difficult to identify exactly who was pictured in the photograph.
Today, one of the most popular tools is Portrait Professional, a stand-alone/Photoshop plug-in utility that can automate and streamline the retouching that sometimes is needed to produce the kind of results that the client (but not necessarily the photographer) wants to see.
The image at left is more or less right out of the camera. In the center is a PortraitPro rendition using the default preset. (You’re actually given a considerable amount of flexibility in choosing your own settings.) At right is a less drastic version.
I’ve made my living emphasizing how to get the best results possible right in the camera, with a minimum of post-processing. When you do that, you probably don’t need textures, excessive HDR, or batch processing plug-ins that give your images that ’60s high school yearbook look.
That’s why amateur photographers have an almost ideal “job” as an image creator. The only expectations they must meet are their own; they follow their own timetable, and if they goof nobody gets upset (or, if results are unexpectedly good, they can claim “I meant to do that!”)