I look at a lot of model/portrait photos. I'm a member of sites like ModelMayhem and PurplePort for example and there are many photos to look at, specially at PurplePort.
I see many that are lit very well or with great natural which is even better, composed well and with a beautiful and/or interesting model. And it looks amazing on a thumbnail but when it's looked at in full size, it's retouched beyond infinity. The model doesn't have a single wrinkle, line, freckle or pore, just a smoothed out plastic face. This is very common but why in the actual fuck do people do this?
On a place like PurplePort you can give "love" to photos and it has stopped me countless times from giving any "love" since I find it hideous when photographers/retouchers do this. And it's not only for headshots, it's for full body nude shots for example. And not even nudes either, any shots with skin showing. There's nothing natural looking about it and it totally puts me off if it's done like that.
Yes, I think it's okay to do it a tiny tiny bit, I do that myself sometimes, but only if something is really disturbing so to speak. Or if the model had a pimple that day and she feels bad about it, sure I would get rid of it in post, but I would never smooth someone out completely and take away their natural look and beauty. Nope, never. And I would like to think that it's offensive to the model, it's like "you're not good enough and I'll reconstruct your looks".
I know, it's more or less the "industry standard" but it's fucked up and I hate it, but I know that many people love these type of photos, I don't understand why but we're all different with different tastes. I guess that it's the same type of people who think that over saturated photos, with nearly black unnaturally looking clouds, with huge amount of halos around edges are just "wow" and "beautiful".
The same people might probably not like my photos, well people might not like them in general, I don't know, they might not be retouched, edited and polished enough, but that's how I do it. Of course I edit photos, but I don't retouch them, maybe that's the difference. I am a pretty heavy user of VSCO film presets for example. Presets that I alter quite heavily to make them my own and use for all images to give them a certain look that I like. But still, I don't turn my models into aliens. I shoot the models that I shoot because I think they're beautiful the way they are.