Lately I've been very active in the cosplay community. With a huge project coming up soon, I've rarely had the chance to do a shoot that is non-cosplay related. This in turn got me following a lot more cosplay photographers as well, to see what they do in terms of photography and how they approach cosplay photography itself, and from this one thing of all stood out the most.
The skin retouching.
Now I'm a huge advocate for skin retouching myself, in my opinion it can enhance a photo and make it look better. Everyone at times has bad skin and it's not a reflection of how most people percieve them. Photos in general should be about the person, and the (temporary) flaws that they might have in their skin should not be distracting you from seeing them as they are.
In some cases of cosplay photography though, this gets taken way beyond what I'm comfortable with. I've seen photos in which cosplayers don't have any texture at all in their skin anymore. It gets close to just being one single shade, with some additional variation regarding their cheeks and eyes, which does give it some depth of course, but on the whole all the detail has been lost. The end result being a plastic or doll like skin that does not look natural in any way, shape, or form, which in my opinion goes too far.
The follow-up question that comes up then is: When do you cross the line between too far, or perfectly right?
Truth to be told, I do not have an answer to that. It's part personal opinion, and part just feeling it out. In my own photographs I tend to smooth out the skin, remove any zits, or pimples and then make sure the skin tone is even. I'll put a comparison image below in which you can slide to the left or right to see the difference. Most of my images are done in a similar fashion and I think that this is about as far as I am willing to go with an image. I'll also add a 100% crop so you can see the texture that is in the skin.
This edit that I've done might still be too drastic for some photographers/editors, and in the end, I don't think there's a perfect answer as to what is too much skin retouching. It all depends on the individual photographer and what I wanted to do is just to throw my opinion out on what I think is ideal.
It does leave me with the question though, of what you think is good skin retouching. If you are a photographer/editor, or just have a strong opinion on it, please let me know in the comments.