Retouching is a beautiful thing. It can remove a blemish, it can get rid of glass glare, it can diminish the wrinkles you have spent years giving yourself. Notice I used the word diminish. Not completely remove. You’ve earned those wrinkles from years of hard work, laughter and in some cases worry. They define your face and who you are. Now I am not saying they should not be softened or toned down, just not completely removed.
In today’s digital retouching world there is a new phenomena called the “Barbie Effect”. It is where every wrinkle, pore and imperfection is removed leaving the person’s face to look like a Barbie doll instead of a real person.
Many people will say, fashion magazines have been doing heavy retouching for years. Very true. They’ll air brush 20 lbs off a model or completely remove the bags that exists under a person’s eyes. But the purpose of a fashion magazine is to sell an idea not reality. You can explain that your 12 year old daughter. But how do you explain it in a local magazine? Or in your family portrait? Or business portrait? It makes kids, especially young teenage girls – feel like that Barbie Doll effect is reality. Causing many young girls today to strive for the perfect look – which is not reality.
I recently found a blog called Digitally Beautiful (http://digitallybeautiful.blogspot.com/) that shows the original photo and the after effect of some serious photoshop work with celebrities and fashion magazines. You’ll be shocked to know the “Dove – Real Women”, campaign was retouched by one of the premier retouchers of fashion photographs. If the campaign was suppose to be real women, retouching should not have been needed. Since there is no before and after we will know what is reality and what is the image Dove wants you to see.
So when has retouching gone to far? Removing a blemish, softening a scar so it is not prominent, removing the shine caused by a person with oily skin. Fine. You should see pores, you should see laugh lines in the corner of a person’s eyes, you should see freckles. All of these things are what make up your image of who you are and how people see you.
Next week – Ode to a Photographer.