Photorealistic human work

Yes, it is the holy grail of many an ambitious artist, and now I am the one to try :o

I have come to an apparent stumbling point in my attempts to make a photorealistic human face. The current level of ‘achievement’, as limited as it is, is this:

I have now became brave (/arrogant) enough to try and siphon ideas from the masters, in particular Jacques Defontaine, whose Tom Cruise lookalike I use to try and grasp some things about better texture and lightening from:

However, I am coming up short. I can only seem to make my own render look different, not better. I do not expect to reach JD’s level this century, but does someone know a good source of information on improving the texturing and lighting of a human face, so that I could at least move a little bit forward? Especially I am having a hard time getting what seems to be a very soft specular reflection looking just right, something like JD’s TC-clone (look at his forehead, in particular).

Tutorials, demos, advice, anything is welcome! It would be nice if it was for Blender, but I think non-Blender help is also usable, since it is at this point a matter of understanding light and texture more than understanding a program…