Look at this picture of a FedEx truck. Have you ever noticed the little arrow between the "Ex"? For me, once I noticed that, I couldn't stop seeing it again. Every time I see the logo I notice the arrow now.
The same thing happens to me with photography and retouching. Once I notice or learn something new, I can't stop looking for the issue in every photo I see. When I learned how to use the Spot Healing Brush tool, I kept visualizing in my head how I could fix people's skin or objects I saw in public.
When I started doing beauty work and paying closer attention to makeup, I started actually paying attention to the details of it and not just that it was there. I noticed if it was applied correctly, if there were areas foundation wasn't blended properly, just normal things that I normally wouldn't have seen. Basically once I started noticing these things, I couldn't stop seeing them in my work, which has only made me more attentive as a photographer and retoucher. So what I wanted to do was break down some of the little things that you might not notice already, but after reading this you'll see everywhere and want to start fixing!
Uneven skin isn't the biggest deal, especially for regular portraits. It's almost completely unnoticeable at 3/4's length. But for beauty work, it's very necessary to fix. Skin isn't perfect... For anybody. When it comes to beauty photography where you see every little detail on someone's face, uneven skin becomes much more noticeable and more problematic.
How to fix: The technique is called Localized Dodge & Burn. You use the same dodge and burn technique that you use to shape and contour the face, but on a smaller scale to even out the bright and dark spots on the face. Here's a great video that explains different techniques you can use.
Stray Hairs Inside The Hair Line
I'm not talking about the stray hairs you see above the person's head. Those are pretty noticeable. I'm talking about the ones that are still in the hairline that curl around and don't follow the natural hair flow. When you're looking for a super clean portrait, taking these out take some time, but they really make all the difference.
How to fix: This is just a mixture of spot-healing brush and clone stamp. Once you practice and go through, you'll notice when to fix each and where each one works better. Here's another video for you!
Broken Nail Polish
I notice a lot of people leave in the cracked fingernails from old nail polish. This is something that usually goes unnoticed because it's such a small detail. Usually the nails are a very small piece of a photo and because of it people don't see it or they don't think it's a big deal. The only problem is if it's an issue/flaw, someone will see it.
How to fix: Clone stamp tool
This is something makeup artists will notice a lot. When you're shooting beauty and see every single detail it can be an issue because you're looking at an over-sized version of what you would normally see from far away. Eyeliner is so small, but for those who put it on every day or very often, they'll notice proper and poor application. Sometimes one side is more thick, sometimes one eye's liner is longer than the other, but if you start looking at it with more attention to the details you might see the issue and be able to fix it properly.
How to fix: Clone stamp again is the best tool for the job for something like this
Eye Blood Vessels
These are the red lines you see in eyes when you get real close up shot in the eye.
How to fix: I use the Spot Healing Brush (under the "J" hotkey menu) set to Content Aware with a Lighten blending mode. Use a really small brush and just follow the trail of the vessel and you should be able to get it pretty well! There's probably better ways to do it and I can't wait for all your emails telling me I'm doing it wrong.
Being detailed oriented shows how much you care about the final product.
Taking time with the final product to make sure you fix everything just adds to your level of professionalism. I know not everyone likes editing, lots of people say they don't even have time for it. But the editing process is just as important as the final product. The process of editing adds to the final product. So when you edit, you want to make sure you're actually getting everything you can and not just what you think is there. You never know if the subject thinks those eye blood vessels makes them feel like they're high or the uneven eyeliner makes them look lazy. Maybe they can't get over the stray hairs and how bad it makes them look.
Editing even these small things adds just a little bit extra. Just because you may not notice it, doesn't mean someone else might. And those small details can really add up!