Jun 13

The Photoshop Controversy

I start to make a Facebook post about this but it was massive and just decided to write a blog.

This is the story that I was going to link.

I know a lot of you didn’t TL;DR that so, basically a department store, Debenhams, in the UK has decided to stop doing a lot of Photoshop manipulations on their adverts. They won’t change the body shape (slim, lengthen, or whatever) or whiten teeth of their models anymore. They will use it to fix stray hair, photo problems, and such.

I think this is wonderful. Last time I posted something about Photoshopping in advertising Tina called and yelled at me. I’m only exaggerating a little. She was yelling, but not at me per say, and I understand why.

I love me some XKCD

Random interrupting cartoon interrupts.

Okay, so there is this HUGE anti-Photoshop movement in separate parts of society. The first are the snobby photographers who act like Photoshop is cheating. While I believe it does allow for a photographer with less technical camera skills have better quality photos, it doesn’t mean these photographers have less skills, their skill happen to be with Photoshop. Lack of talent and lack of artistic sensibility will show no matter how much digital manipulation that is thrown at a photo. To me, a photographer denying Photoshop is like me refusing a computer and only using a typewriter or pen and paper. This is new technology of my art. I’m not going to go scratching out words on papyrus because spell check is cheating. Frel that. Frell that with a big fracking stick.

The second group are people sick of seeing digitally manipulated images of models used to sell a product.  First, Tina pointed out to me, don’t blame the photographer/graphic designer. Those pictures are the product the company wants to use, so they make them. That is why this one store making this stand is so wonderful. Tina explained to me photographers have two different sets of photos: their art, and the ones they produce for clients.

Photographer/graphic designers have a powerful need to eat like space cowboys and the rest of us. They take pictures that people want to buy. These are the photos with the perfect skin, hair, teeth. I’m lucky because my best friend is a photographer. I realized one day when she was showing me photos of myself, I was looking at these pictures with the filters of my own self loathing, not through her artist’s eyes. I learned to stop seeing pictures of me as me. I look at them as someone else. She shows me what is beautiful about this someone else, and, man, most of the time, she was dead on. There is something beautiful about that woman even with her double chin, arm fat, strange shaped huge ears. Slowly, I begin to realize that beautiful woman is me. It changes my life a little each time we do it. It happens because I turn over all of my trust to her, and I allow her to show me what she sees. I wish every person on Earth could do this, but so few of us are willing to be that vulnerable and trusting. So few of us are willing to try to turn off our self-loathing filters. It is a gift and a blessing.

Anyway, since most people can’t have this extremely personal and world altering thing, they want pictures with all of their “flaws” Photoshopped out. It is what they want. It is how a photographer affords to stay in business.

Where I start having issues is when companies demand things that are unrealistic. Images affect us. We, unfortunately, live in a world that drives us to be this fracked up standard of perfect that is completely unattainable, and probably flipping awful if we got it, without adding truly fake stuff on to it. No 16 year-old girl, who works out 4 hours a day and eats nothing but lettuce, should have her body slimmed on Photoshop. Seriously? If a professional model, who are already completely unattainable by most mere mortals, can’t cut it for an advertising exec, something is seriously flipping wrong.

So, lesson here: be nice to your photographer/graphic designer. They are trying to feed themselves.  Someday, find a photographer you trust, trust them, and let them show you your beauty. Finally, get pissy at the companies that demand the harmful digital manipulation.


This is almost a year old, but when I look at this, I remember how beautiful I am. Tina gave that to me.



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