I will be the first to admit it, Photoshop is great. Just this past weekend my daughter and I did a shoot for soon to launch Venusstock . While I am a very proud mom and stay fit, I appreciate the nip and tuck that I will get in post production to look (even more) fabulous. If I could get up in the morning and get rid of my crow’s feet and the signs of aging just like that I would do it. I want to look good and please who doesn’t?
But then I go workout at my gym or hang out on the beach. There they are – the real people. Aging has the same effect in various degrees for everyone. We get wrinkles and our skin isn’t as fabulous as it once was. Perhaps the extra pound or two settles on the wrong part of the body and there is gravity. A recent poll at AskMen.com says that 40% of men agree that women ‘loose their looks’ after 40. Only 15% of men said women never lose being beautiful. Ouch.
All of that changes when we enter the celebrity world. Even Cindy Crawford once said that she’d like to get up and look like Cindy Crawford. To achieve this look it takes 2 hours. It includes a controlled environment, lighting and the right equipment. And then there is post production. It is obvious to all of us that celebrity images are retouched and often times to a point where the image is so over retouched that skin doesn’t even look like skin anymore. The result is that the person looks ‘fake.’
My recent visit at the Annenberg in Los Angeles and the Beauty Culture exhibit reminded me of the good old days. I found images from photographer TYEN who was back in my ‘photo editor at Elle’ days my favorite Make-Up artist turned Photographer. Back then there was no retouching and his work was flawless. To this day I remember the beauty image where I wanted to touch the skin because it was perfect.
We have gone so far into the deep end that we are seeing a noticeable movement against the trend of featuring the over perfection and exaggerated image manipulation. In Europe where advertising laws are more stringent than here Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts ad’s were just pulled because in the eyes of the watchdog Advertising Council it represented false advertising. The article states that before images of Julia Roberts could contractually not been show to anyone. Probably out of fear that someone would see what she actually looks like. My guess, she has a few wrinkles. Here is the article in the Guardian.
What I’d like to hear from you is which side of the argument do you buy into and here are the angles I have heard:
– Retouching is an art-form. Just another way to enhance an image.
– Retouching is necessary otherwise your images won’t sell because it is the current standard.
– Retouching represents false advertising. People do not look like this, they look fake.
– Retouched images of celebrities are causing huge problems for preteens and teens who feel the pressure to look like something that can’t even be achieved.
Where do you stand in all of this? Let me know I appreciate a spirited discussion.
Great post. IMO, retouching is an art form that has a place in professional photography. But it’s a tool that a large number of image-makers take much too far. Putting Photoshop in the hands of some is a bit like handing a credit card to a hard-partying teenager and saying, “Now, only use this for emergencies and school books.” The temptation is simply too strong and the results are often disastrous. Too many of us today subscribe to the the if-a-little-is-good-more-is-better mentality. The best beauty retouching, IMO, occurs in the subtleties.
I am in the middle. Some retouching is a good thing, too much, not so good. The trick is to remove things that won’t always be there, pimples, a flake of skin, maybe sweat depending on the image. I can smooth skin to make it look like porcelain and I can smooth the complexion and leave the texture of the skin. It’s technique. The trick is to keep it real. Never retouch someone to the point where you wouldn’t recognize them on the street.
BTW – You aren’t looking too shabby in any of your images, including the one in this article!
I pretty much agree with the comments that have been made so far. No retouching is a ridiculous demand. People will often look worse than reality with zero retouching. It does go too far often though. The problem is the “line” is very fuzzy. I’m not sure where it is, is anyone?
I enhance all my images, but I am careful not to over do it to the point that the skin is perfect, etc. You really have to be careful with retouching and I try to concentrate on good lighting and basic makeup for men and women. I use an anti shine product by Lancombe for men that eliminates the shine, but is easy to apply because it is a clear gel and they do not feel like that are having makeup applied to their face. Softening lines around the eyes, lightening dark circles under the eyes are my main focus when retouching. I just have to be careful to not eliminate all the lines and imperfections. I want my clients to look their best, not like Julia Roberts after being retouched.
The problem I encounter nowadays is clients statements during photoshoots: ” You can photoshop this”. I hear it all the time.
I think a little retouching is good. But like it says in the article, some people look fake. Too much of a good thing is too much.
Ever hear the term “the customer is always right?” As a portrait and event photographer I consider myself in the service industry and want to make my customers happy. While I have my style which tends to hover on the more natural side/minor retouching, sometimes more may be necessary (or requested) and in those cases I adapt to a point. For example: I recently had a mid day wedding that was on a 95 degrees hot and humid day. I adapted for the situation and used photoshop to remove the sheen and sweat! I do think that the younger clients often want heavy ‘advertising airbrushing’ to make them look like they are a “model”! When I get those requests I often meet them in the middle doing more than I normally would do, but not as much as I could do which often goes over better w/parents who often are the paying customers.
1.Retouching is an art-form. Just another way to enhance an image.
Answer : ENHANCE….not go overboard
2. Retouching is necessary otherwise your images won’t sell because it is the current standard.
Answer: CURRENT standard….hopefully, in the near future, these android-looking images will make way for the wholesome, truthful, realistic look, of STILL, beautiful women.
3. Retouching represents false advertising. People do not look like this, they look fake.
ANSWER: I agree…I HATE the fact that wrinkles that beautify people, are totally swept away.
4.Retouched images of celebrities are causing huge problems for preteens and teens who feel the pressure to look like something that can’t even be achieved
ANSWER: OF COURSE, what do teenagers know about the real world. GIVE them the real world and let them understand that its OK to have “flaws”. As long as they also understand that obesity is NOT the current standard!