There’s been a lot of BuzzFeed coverage as of late about the use of photoshop- the volunteers willing to be photoshopped are seeing the very extreme version to see how they would look if they were altered to look like what the “media” deems as an “acceptable” body type. In the end the general consensus appears to be that people don’t really need it - they are fine as they are and people are just being fed the idea if they don’t attain these unrealistic body expectations they are somehow less than. Now I make it no secret that I manipulate my images quite a bit, but does that make me a bad photographer, deceitful, a liar?
When I was starting out in photography I knew about as much photoshop as I knew about how to take a decent photograph, I just about knew how to toggle with the brightness and contrast sliders. Like everything in a skill setits about taking the time to sit and spend a significant amount of time learning how certain things work and how to make them work for you - and so given that I can spend up to an hour editing your basic portrait, I wouldn’t necessarily call that a cop out, I call that going the extra mile for somebody. If someone is paying for a professional, luxury service their expecting a little bit of a fantasy as oppose to something they can do themselves. Where I’m at now with photoshop - I can make people thinner, replace body parts, clean up your skin and do all these fantastic things that people ask my to do post our session together. I may do some of these things, but I don’t do it all - is that a bad thing, does it feed into your insecurities about yourself that you can’t really change outside photoshop - maybe? But the minute I send out images I myself and think a client might not be happy with, is the day I haven’t done my job right.
Showing people how they are, straight from the camera is a highly debatable topic indeed. My angle however is that if you are marketing a product (in whatever capacity, be that a film, fashion or a simple portrait) - cleaning up things like acne, loose hairs, skin and things that are not typically aesthetic - is fine. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying go the full monty to the point that person look unrecognisable/unrealistic but to a place where you as retoucher are satisfied that it is a solid professional portrait.
I decided to use an image of myself as not to enrage any of my pals for showing their ‘before shot’ haha: Now in the shot on the left I have what looks like an unmade bed of a birds nest for a hair style. Really revealed rough skin which is a lot to due with the quality (megapixels) and then the studio lights picking it up. No make-up to cover up that teenage acne that 99% of us have and then the text on the shirt which honestly just steals focus from my beautiful face. So I moulded my hair to something it looked like before I let the Scottish weather get a hold of it, I clone stamped out the acne which could have been covered up by a make up artist and smoothened out my skin which would normally be less noticeable had I not been lit up by 500 pounds worth of lighting equipment.
Whenever I edit I instantly make an assessment of what needs done, thats just the method of editing I've grown comfortable with. It doesn’t mean I think that person needs to change who they are in any way shape or form, it means I know the difference between looking at yourself in a mirror and looking at someone through a lens. In real life and I look at somebody, they can be moving, talking, I can feel their changing energies - I am given so much more to go on than just a 2 Dimensional image which I have the ability to look at and consciously whip out every single potential flaw.
Where I’m at now with photo-shop? I very much look at it like most things involving image, its about image! - how can we say magazines and people with unrealistic body types are making us feel like shit when we do the same thing everyday. We do it through, facebook, instagram, twitter all portray this version of ourself to the world we want people to see.
Why do you put on make-up, style your hair, wear nice clothes - to make the people around you feel better? Absolutely not, I do the things I do so that I feel better about myself. And so that my confidence can exude with the knowledge that I feel more comfortable having done those things than not. Does that mean that I still don’t have insecurities, no - but your natural “falsities” are what make you more human than ever and if anything make people appreciate you more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a nice picture of yourself, no matter how you have to get it. It’s not about lying to people, its about wanting to look at the “best” version of yourself possible.