I’d like to provide an example of how I like to retouch images while retaining a realistic look. The below are taken from a recent commission for some corporate staff headshot portraits. The photoshoot took place at the clients office. The first portrait example is lit with strobe flash lighting. The second is natural light from windows to camera left and behind the subject.
In these images the retouch has been applied to the skin and eyes. So as you can see in the before and after the skin tones and texture are smoother and the eyes brighter. The image has been brightened overall and contrast adjusted. This is a subtle retouch which I think does not draw attention to itself.
The second image has a similar retouch as above with an additional edit to the background. I found the window edge distracting and so extended this so that it appears to continue beyond the image frame. Finally the image is cropped to a tighter composition.