In my retouching my main goal is always to keep the realism intact. It is really easy to cross the boundary and make the image look more like digital painting… and there is nothing wrong with that if that is your goal. However, I like when a photo looks still like photo, skin still looks like skin… and yes, that means keeping some imperfections in. How much, depends on the image and style.
All of my retouching is done manually without use of any plugins or shortcuts. Yes, it takes more time, but I think the results are worth it. Again, my ultimate goal is to keep it looking realistic.
Photography: Slava Samoilenko
Retouching: Adrian Alexander S. for Ad Retouch Studio