There’s been a big issue this year pertaining to Photoshopping and over-editing photographs, what editing does to body image, how ethical Photoshopped advertising actually is and the general misrepresentation Photoshop can cause. I’d like to discuss my views on Photoshop, why I use it and how far I take my editing. There are many facets to my reasoning, and I’ll do my best to help you understand where I’m coming from.
To begin, I’d like to start with the basis of a portrait. The purpose of a portrait is to capture the essence of your subject in their truest form. Ideally, you want a natural body position, a pure smile and a walls-down-here-is-my-soul-at-its-deepest expression in their eyes. There are other elements involved in a portrait, but the focus is right on those two windows (the eyes) looking right at you and communicating personality. If there are distracting blemishes on your face, or dark circles that detract from that focus, I’ll edit them. We all get blemishes. We all have bad nights of sleep. We’re just human. That’s how our bodies work.
There is an integrity to the portraits I take of you. You want to look your best and I want you to look your best. So, I’ll choose the right poses, the right light and do the minor touch ups as needed. I draw the line when it comes to changing what you actually look like. I don’t believe in changing your eye color, making you skinnier or more plump; I don’t believe in lengthening your neck, straightening your teeth or taking out your dimples. That’s when the portrait transforms into a picture and not a true representation of you.
More controversially is the fashion side of this issue.
When you look at a fashion ad, there is a part of that advertisement that appeals to you. Whether you think the clothes look cool, you can picture how awesome you’d look wearing those accessories or you are enticed by how appealing the model is in those clothes/accessories/makeup/lifestyle, your interest is peaked because of your personal positive appeal. That, your reaction, is the point of advertising.
Brands gear their marketing towards the specific clientel they want to reach. If you don’t find their advertising appealing, they’ve missed their mark. The most effective way to sell a product is through creating a glamorous appeal.
Here’s the secret behind that glamorous appeal : models are normal people. Yes, they may be taller than the average human, but they are people, just like you and me. Makeup, styling, lighting and, yes, editing all factor in to creating the appeal you see in advertisements. There are many models and celebrities who have spoken out about being a blank canvas for a shoot. Once they have seen the final product, they don’t recognize themselves and some have even wondered why they were chosen if the final product was beyond what they actually look like. That’s the art to creating these photographs.
Do some brands take this too far? Yes. Most definitely, yes. There are some brands who promote unhealthily skinny models and then edit them to be even skinnier. That’s where they cross the line. Before they cross that line though, they are simply doing their job and creating an appeal that will lead to the purchasing of products. Plain and simple.