How Would You Edit the Official White House Portrait of the First Lady?

How Would You Edit the Official White House Portrait of the First Lady?

It’s been posted nearly everywhere by now. The official White House portrait of the first lady, Melania Trump is being criticized all over the web for its 1980’s-esque vibe and overall lack of quality. The image has photographers everywhere claiming that they could have produced better, however, given that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll receive an opportunity to photograph the First Lady in a studio environment, I’m interested in how the community thinks the portrait should look.

Considering the amount of media attention the US President and his family already receive, does anyone actually care about one more photograph of the First Lady? The White House does, and they updated their website to include a new portrait, the official portrait, of the First Lady. Mrs. Trump can be seen standing in a strong, forward-facing pose with her arms crossed, wearing a black scarf and business coat. Personally, I’m okay with that. What I can’t seem to get over is the apparent lack of quality present in the image. Either I need some corrective glasses, or whoever processed this image seemingly hates clarity and sharpness and chose to lean on the left-hand side of their clarity and sharpness sliders.

Official White House portrait of FLOTUS, Melania Trump.

No doubt, one of the many competent photographers here among the Fstoppers community could have taken a much better portrait. With the obvious aside, let’s have a little fun with this. I’m interested in seeing if any of you Photoshop experts out there can make a few, corrections. Ready, set, go! Post your edits in the comments. Oh, and be nice! 

Photo courtesy of

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Leigh Miller's picture

With all due respect to the First Lady, I would start over.

The shot itself is unsharp...which in itself doesn't bother me too much. However, the retouching is way overdone. She is an attractive lady with exceptional bold features. The PP/Photographer didn't need to go that far with the after-work.

As for the pose itself...I like it. Strong, confident woman...

Bill Larkin's picture

I agree.

Gavin McCourt's picture

Thought I would give it a go - man it's hard to introduce detail to an image with so little!

Dusty Wooddell's picture


Gavin McCourt's picture

Thanks :)

Lenn Long's picture

My guess is it's over-processed using Portrait Professional software. Not a knock on the software, but the person using it. In my opinion it's too heavy handed. So the debate is, is it a two light set-up or three?

William Howell's picture

Four lights, two kickers, one for the hair and a beauty dish. And perhaps a ring flash?

Justin Berrington's picture

Here ya go

Adam Rowell's picture

Thanks for helping me procrastinate today. Here's my version.

Too much black.

Leigh Miller's picture

All good tries...but trying to make silk from a Sow's ear....not so much.

Spy Black's picture

Horribly retouched image. It's the retouching that utterly destroys it. I guess with all the money going to the military and building The Wall they couldn't afford a real retoucher...

Dude, get a grip, and stick to the photo.

Spy Black's picture

Here, educate yourself:

Yeah I know what it was, and my response is the same. Get a grip.

Spy Black's picture

If you knew what it was, then we all know who really needs to "get a grip"...

You do not equal "we."

Spy Black's picture

I don't have to.

steve E's picture

for me as a rank amature photographer let alone post editor the pose is completely wrong. It's supposed to be a formal portrait of the first lady not a portfolio shot for a soap actress. smile or close your mouth, that "sparrow face" crap belong on instagram.

Vasilis Argyropoulos's picture

I'm also of the opinion that the image in question is more appropriate for corporate branding rather than a formal presentation of the FLOTUS. but even then, I would not bother to re-edit this image, there are too many details missed that to me this screams "rushed job". I would have tried for a 3/4 portrait, angled the subject a bit. I would also prefer to have more ambient daylight and perhaps feature a nice piece of furniture to accent the image and give it a bit of depth.

William Howell's picture

Fantastic portrait of a fantastic and tremendous president’s wife, much better and prettier than the last “first lady.”
That’s how you troll!

Justin Berrington's picture

The photographer is Regine Mahaux. She has some great images and an A list of clientele. Not sure where she went wrong with this one

Brad Neverwrong's picture

I used a special Dark Crystal filter to bring out her eyes a bit. I then took the slider to 100 on the second one. A or B?

Don't understand why anyone would vote you down here.

Wouldn't expect anything less from you, Peter.

Christopher Soule's picture

What I have seen here so far is mostly just cropping. I thought the crop was ok. And, yes, maybe it's more MY style, but I added a vingnette. I also smoothed out her skin tones, darkened her cheek color a bit, sharpened her eyes, eyebrows and hair, upped the vibrance a tad and brightened the contrast. Hope you like it...

Leigh Smith's picture

"I added vignette" - ironically I'm guessing

Leigh Smith's picture

Nope, never mind, just looked at your work.
Take the time and understand what vignette is and when and when not to use. (hint: rarely ever). IMHO

Anonymous's picture

Constructive criticism is more constructive when you're less of a dick...IMHO.

Patrick Hall's picture

Everyone here is just sharpening the image...I would have thought the background was the first thing to be shopped out!

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