In my previous article entitled “The Photoshop Effect” I made three points that I thought Photoshop was

a) Producing lazy photographers, and
b) affecting the way we look at images
c) distorting our view of the world

The previous article discussed the first two, and in this post I will cover the third point.

People are aware that we are bombarded by thousands of images each day through magazines, billboards and television and that in recent times there has been real questions about the about of retouching that is happening especially in magazines that target females.

Perfect smiles, perfect hair, perfect shapes and perfect skin leap off these pages so it is easy to imagine that these are the examples you should strive to achieve. Now with a good makeup artists, hair stylist and a photographer who knows about lighting and posing you can produce great looking images, but the magazines want more and so, unfortunately in just about every case the images have been manipulated.

If you want to see how much actually goes on then there is a simple test to do. Find an article where a celebrity is in favour and one where  the celebrity is not. In the former case the images are generally staged. Hair, makeup and styling is done and full lighting is used. Odds are that any little wrinkles that slip through in this stage will be removed later. But for the celebrity out of favour no such luxury. The shots here are generally paparazzi taken in the street under harsh light and are designed to show the person at their worst. It is doubtful that any post production will be done on these images.

The reality is that the later shots actually reflect reality.

Just about every model I have shot has had some body issues and quite frankly I lay the blame at the magazines for making these worse.  I have not yet encountered a model that does not have stretch marks on some parts of her body, yet you will never see them in the magazine.

Now as i shoot model portfolios I am not so stupid as to say that I will not retouch an image myself because quite frankly that would not be fair if the person is trying to present the best of view of themselves.  However I will initially try to minimize the need for it with hair, makeup and lighting.

Then with regard to the retouching I have developed my own photoshop philosophy and a set of guidelines that I will usually apply when handling model portfolios.

  1. Skin must look like skin and not be so altered that it looks like plastic. (if I wanted to shoot Barbie I would start with a mannequin)
  2. I will remove blemishes (such as acne) but I will only remove scars after I have checked with the person if they want them removed.
  3. I will brighten eyes and enhance the natural colour but I won’t change it.
  4. I will only use the liquidify tool to correct bulges caused by clothing, or posing, or in the case of a recent model where she had recently given birth. I will not however use it simply to slim someone down.

If, however, I am shooting a concept piece then I may well give the image more of a retouch.