I have been a photographer for over 30 years. Though I have never had a studio, I have been involved in the modeling world in Spokane, WA, working with some of the best Spokane has to offer. I have been a retoucher and digital artist for over 6 years, using Photoshop to transform photos into unique works of art.
Philosophy on Editing:
Few photos are truly perfect off the camera. Some need more work than others, but all can use a little enhancing to make them look at least a little more appealing. When it comes to people, especially women, a photo ought to be as flattering and visually appealing without being unrealistic. Not all blemishes need to be removed, but anything that distracts from the overall beauty of the person and image should be considered whether it should be there or not. I usually leave this to the discretion of the client or photographer. A little body shaping is usually good. Certain poses or types of clothing can produce unflattering bulges that editing can lessen or remove. Age lines can be reduced, but a 60 year old should not suddenly look like she is 25. Possibly most of all, SKIN HAS TEXTURE! A little smoothing is good, but most retouchers go too far and produce flat skin which is unrealistic. Basically, unless a picture is supposed to have a painted or digital art look, which should be obvious, then if it is obvious a picture has been retouched, it is overdone. I work to make images look the best they can while staying within boundaries of realism and believability.
Advice to posting on Social Media:
1. Stop using crappy pictures of yourself
Before you leave the house, you probably do what you can to look your best. Why would you not do the same for the images which represent you online? Why take some dark, blurry selfie and post it for anyone except your closest friends and family who already know how goofy you look and you're not trying to impress anyway? I am not saying you have to hire a pro to take your online pics, or buy some pro level camera and a tripod. Most phones these days take good pictures. Selfies are fine if they don't look like selfies. Give your phone to someone to take some pics of you.
2. Resist the urge to use filters
Filters are fun and can be easy ways to quickly "edit" your images. Again, use these pictures to share with friends, not in professional settings or with people you do not know. Editing filters actually ruin your photos in the same way too much or bad editing does. They are based on algorithms which have no idea what you picture is supposed to look like. They do blanket changes to the entire image. As an editor, I usually use masks to apply certain effects to certain parts of the image which makes sense for that image. Something automatic usually cannot replace what human eyes and creativity can do. If your images need fixing have someone who knows that they are doing edit them for you.
3. Censor sensibly
First of all, if your images need to be censored for social media, you might want to be sure you want that much of yourself being seen by just anyone to begin with. If you do, then sites like Facebook and Instagram will need you to censor certain parts of your anatomy. What little is required to be censored doesn't seem to make sense to me, but that is a different matter. When censoring is needed, be as non-distracting to to rest of the image as possible. A white pen scratch out or a bright yellow smiley face essentially ruins the image. There are other ways to censor that fit better with the image and does not distract from the rest of the 95% of your body.
If you are a photographer:
I know you likely consider post-production as part of your workflow. The thing is, working with people and capturing good images is a particular skill. Editing those images on a computer to make them look perfect is a completely different skill. It is also one that generally takes a great deal of time. This is time you could be spending doing what you love, and that is actual photography. If you have your own look or style to your editing, I can learn that so it is still your artistry, even though I am doing it for you. I can even use actions that you create. Even if I am just used for your busy season, or I do only part of the editing, I am here to help any way I can.
I can't do everything:
There is a lot I can do to make your images better, if not awesome. One thing I can't fix much if at all is blurry images. Low resolution and out of focus images are pretty much goners. If images are dark, even very dark, I may be able to bring out some detail from the shadows, but it is likely to be grainy when I do. Overexposed images are even worse. There is likely no image information in blown out areas. Adding detail would have to come from elsewhere in the image, that will be time consuming, which will be costly. If something is removed from an image, detail has to be created from elsewhere in the image. Removing someone's hand from in front of your face does not then show your face. Yes, I have to actually say that. Doing something creative with your images depends on whether I am able to work with what you give me. I won't likely be able to take pictures of you in a hoody and make you into a superhero. The more body shape I have to work with, the better for creative images. In other words, yoga pants would be better than a dress for that kind of work. Finally, professional images are copyrighted, and photographers generally do not like their work messed with, especially if their logo or watermark is on the photo. Make sure you have editing rights to all images you send me for editing.