I’ve had a story I’ve been holding off on telling until the time was right. It’s about a product that I’ve come to truly believe in (and rely on). But, before the events of this story happened, it’s something that I pretty much dismissed without ever really trying it. I didn’t want to tell the story until you could get a hold of the software I’m talking about. Now that it’s out, I figure it’s time. Here goes…

A Visit To onOne Software
Back in August I was out west in Oregon, and stopped by to see my friends at the onOne Software office for a day. They were just about to announce Perfect Photo Suite 7 and their newest software updates, so I sat in for a couple of hours to take a look at what’s new. I was digging everything they had to show. I really like their Perfect Effects plug-in. I think Perfect Layers is great for anyone who uses Lightroom and just needs simple layering capabilities. Perfect Mask is awesome and just got WAY better, but I was most excited about their brand new Black and White plug-in. Honestly though, the one that least excited me, at the time, was their retouching plug-in (Perfect Portrait 2).

The Words That I Would Eventually Eat
When they got around to demoing Perfect Portrait 2, they asked what I thought. I was pretty honest in saying it didn’t do much for me. Don’t get me wrong. The technology of what I just saw was incredible. They way it automatically recognizes eyes, the mouth and teeth is nothing less than amazing. But, I figured that if you were a hardcore portrait retoucher, then you were going to use Photoshop – no matter what. Serious fashion and beauty retouchers actually take pride in the amount of time it takes them to retouch a portrait. The longer the better :) (I joke… well… kinda). I mentioned that I thought the plug-in was great for beginners, but that for me personally, I could do the job much faster in Photoshop. Oh, and by the way, when I said the word “much” I’m pretty sure I put some heavy emphasis on it :). I also recall saying I could probably be done whitening teeth and brightening eyes by the time the plug-in was open (ouch!).

The Challenge
So one of the guys over at onOne who was doing the demo (Dan Harlacher), suggested we try a contest. He proposed that we both open the same photo and see who’s done faster. He even let me pick from my own photos, so I picked a photo with two people in it that both needed retouching.

The Smackdown
So Dan loaded up the photo and off we went. Ready… set… go! I added a layer, changed the blend mode to Screen, added a layer mask and whitened one persons eyes. Then I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and used it to remove some yellow tint from the teeth on one person. Moving on, I added another layer along with a Gaussian Blur to get ready to blur the skin. Next thing I hear “Done!” from Dan. What?! Seriously?! No way?! My first thought was that I’d look over and see some really poor attempt at retouching or that maybe he wasn’t really as “done” as he said he was. I was wrong. He was done. Both people were retouched. Eyes brightened, teeth whitened, skin smoothed. It was all very tasteful retouching. Just as good as if I’d done it myself in Photoshop.

The Lesson
Besides the obvious lesson of not being too sure of myself about something I hadn’t tried out yet, there’s more to this story. I learned that Perfect Portrait is a VERY solid plug-in for retouching portraits. One that will definitely now be a part of my retouching projects. Even though I know Photoshop and can do the retouching manually (and consider myself pretty fast at it), there’s no denying the speed and results that I saw that day.

So Who’s Perfect Portrait Really For?
1) It’s absolutely great for pros that shoot portrait or wedding sessions where they have to deliver several, or many different photos. Photos that all need retouching, but you don’t want to spend the time to open each one individually and do it manually in Photoshop.

2) It works great on photos with multiple people in it (this one is where I find it most useful). Sure, I was pretty close to finishing my retouch when Dan yelled “Done”. But I was only done with one person. There were two people in the photo. So if I only had 1 person and 1 photo to retouch, could I rival Perfect Portrait? Probably – it would be close. But that’s where I was wrong in my first thoughts about it. How many times do you only have 1 person and 1 photo to retouch. I shoot a lot of lifestyle-family portraits. Photos that often have 3-5 people in them. And I don’t just deliver 1 photo to the family. I typically deliver 5-10. Heck, you can even batch the retouching so it’s all done for you automatically. It’s crazy just how good this plug-in is.

3) Perfect Portrait is great if you aren’t a Photoshop pro and don’t want to learn all of the intricacies of the layers, filters, blend modes, and brushes involved in retouching portraits.

Who’s Perfect Portrait Not For?
It’s not for hardcore retouchers. If you’re retouching photos for the fashion industry or for magazines then this is definitely not for you. If you want absolute perfect attention to every tiny little detail, then it’s not for you. It’s for the 99% of photographers left out there, who simply need to retouch a photo in a few minutes and still get great results.

Congrats to onOne Software for a killer new release with Perfect Photo Suite 7. Like I tell everyone who asks me about plug-ins, there’s a 30-day free trial so give it a try yourself. If you have a previous version you can buy the upgrade or, of course, the full version if you don’t. And don’t forget that NAPP members get $50 off.

Have a great weekend everyone! :)