AT A time when awareness of the impact of negative body image is growing, and when the public can now spot a Photoshop fail a mile off, retouching tools like this may attract a degree of controversy or suspicion.
But Portrait Professional is very, very good – not just in terms of its overall results, but in treading that fine line between enhancement and idealisation. However, you do need to be able to see where that line is. If you cross it, your subject stops looking like the real-life person you photographed and instead starts to look like a model, and that can be flattering and unflattering at the same time. It’s great for professional models whether they are male or female (Portrait Professional is equally good at both), but if it’s a private client or someone you know, you probably need to flatter them, not ‘ fix’ them.
We can’t blame the software for that. Indeed, it’s difficult to see how Portrait Professional’s ability to control the degree and type of enhancement can be improved. It does both ends of the spectrum, from gentle enhancement to outright idealisation equally well.
It’s not even particularly expensive. The Standard version is the cheapest, normally costing £59.90 but on offer at £29.99 at the time of going to press. It offers all the enhancement tools of the other versions, but works only as a standalone program, doesn’t support raw files and doesn’t do batch processing.
Next up is the Studio version at £99.90 (currently £49.95). This will work both as a standalone program and a plug-in, and offers support for raw files and different colour spaces.
There is a Studio Max version at £199.90 (currently £99.95), which adds batch processing, but unless you’re likely to want to enhance a whole series of images automatically, the Studio version is the best value. Portrait enhancement is the kind of job you’re likely to want to do image by image.
Alternatively, you can simply download the trial version. This is save- disabled and the edited images are watermarked, but it will give you a flavour of what this remarkable program can do.