Today’s topic is Photoshop The All Mighty. During the first stages of my research for my final thesis in-the-making, I’ve read a lot of articles debating the use of Photoshop.
And I bet you’ve heard a lot about it even if you’re not working in any field of visual communication!
There’s one thing many people tend to forget:
PHOTOSHOP IS A TOOL.
Like a screwdriver, or a pair of scissors - it’s a tool and it can’t be bad per se. The USE of it is a completely different thing altogether. I’ll be focusing more about ‘beauty’ retouching of models, since I photograph models as well.
This is such a vast and complex topic which I’ll be writing about SO MUCH MORE in the thesis, so I’ll try to keep this brief and give you an insight of my before and afters as well!
1. RETOUCHING IS NOTHING NEW
If you go way back, before the era of digital devices, when photographs needed to be developed in darkrooms (hurray for film photography!) and think that those photos looked exactly like the camera ‘shot’ them - you’re very wrong.
The use of different chemicals, retouching and tweaking BY HAND, the sensibility of film etc. - everything has an impact on the final result of the photo!
Check out some early examples of photo manipulation here :)
2. PHOTOSHOP ALLOWS US TO TELL STORIES
So, you’re a photographer starting out, or even a well established photographer by now, but you don’t get enough funds for everything you’d need to build that awesome set you’ve got in mind. Well, luckily for you, there’s Photoshop!
Just imagine if photographers like Laura Zelenga, Rob Woodcox or Brooke Shaden didn't have the technical support they need to create the worlds of their imagination.
Thinking in terms of ‘how to do it in post-processing (in Photoshop)’ takes time and experimentation and rejecting a photo just because ‘it was made in Photoshop’ lacks understanding of the matter.
(Of course, there’s Tim Walker with his dream-like projects with props that were all made IN REAL LIFE. But not all of us work for Vogue!)
I see Photoshop as nothing more or less than a step I take in creating a visually appealing photograph; it’s part of the process and the final creation just like everything else.
3. ‘I CAN FIX THIS LATER IN PHOTOSHOP’ IS NOT WHAT YOU SHOULD BE THINKING
This had happened to me a few times as well, and then an inner voice said: ‘Shuuuun this way of thinking!’.
I’ll explain what’s so wrong with this.
If, for example, there’s a strand of hair in your model’s face and you notice it and it’s bothering you, but you say nothing because ‘you can fix it later’ - DON’T.
Remember: the better you capture something straight in camera, the better the final result will be. And why waste so much time in front of the screen anyway? If something can be fixed BEFORE you press that shutter, great! If you missed something - well, then you may as well clone/remove/add/subtract that in Photoshop.
Let’s not be lazy :)
4. LIQUIFY THIS!
There’s a tool in Photoshop called the Liquify tool. With it, you can make your cat’s eyes more round, or your model’s tummy tight/thighs skinnier/butt perkier.
Of course, the problem is not the tool itself.
Our society’s perception of what beautiful is comes into play and that’s why models for magazines are heavily retouched and their bodies reduced.
Who yet hasn’t seen that very much talked about Dove’s ‘Body Evolution’ ad?
Instead of having a VARIETY of models, the industry always forces one of a kind, be it curvy or skinny models (I won't even start on height, skin colour etc.) . Remember when Marilyn Monroe was famous? The curvy ideal was forced onto every woman the same way the skinny ideal is forced onto every woman now!
See what I did above?
We’re not talking about Photoshop anymore, we’re talking about IDEALS.
Our society’s views on human bodies and shaming needs to change.
Photoshop is not the problem. Society is.