Beauty and Editing Practices in Photography

In keeping with a similar theme to my last blog post I want to touch on a subject in this one that seems to be garnering a lot of negative attention as of late. There seems to be quite an uproar among photographers and people alike with regards to how images are being edited for publication in beauty magazines and advertising.
There seems to be an abundance of very poorly edited images being published in magazines and ads in order to create the illusion of the “perfect body” or flawless beauty. I have personally seen some incredibly poor editing of images which are actually getting published in all forms of media. It makes me wonder; who is proofing and approving this work before it gets published? Are they fucking blind? These mistakes, for lack of a better word, couldn’t be more blatant when you look at the image(s). It’s a completely inaccurate representation of the model and utterly inappropriate.
I saw an article about an ad for Victoria’s Secret the other day and it was painfully obvious that the image had been touched up. Apparently this seems to be an ongoing issue for the lingerie company with their Photoshop happy editors. This cannot be helping their company image. I know Victoria’s Secret is not the only company where this subject has been the topic of discussion and criticism but this bone of contention is becoming more and more prevalent in the “beauty” industry.
Not only does this reflect poorly upon the photography industry but more importantly these retouched images are causing a whole other host of problems among our female youth. These photos are sending the wrong message to the young girls/women who are consuming the content. The message being, “it’s in to be thin”. This is not a healthy message to be sending to our younger generation but I digress as this is a whole other topic for a completely separate blog post.


Image courtesy of community.babycenter.com

Is Photography Real Anymore?

When we look at something or a scene, our eyes interpret and tell the brain what we are seeing is real…or is it? When it comes to photography, has the advancement of technology over the years done something to possibly alter this perception?
Let’s be honest, it’s next to impossible to determine the authenticity of a photograph in terms of whether or not it is a composite of multiple images. With the level of skill some people possess in Photoshop, it’s incredibly difficult to establish what’s genuine and what’s not.
How far can a photographer take an image and alter it before it is no longer considered a photograph in the true sense of the word? What is acceptable? Is there such a thing as taking a photograph past a certain point in terms of editing before it is no longer a true photograph? Who, if anyone is the person to determine such a thing?
I know there are photography contests or competitions that will not accept images that have been manipulated or composited but what is considered taking it past the point of a “true” photograph? Is using filters, pre-sets and textures in Lightroom or Photoshop or even dodging and burning in these editing software programs considered acceptable?
Think back to the photography of the great Ansel Adams, he used the dodge and burn method in the darkroom when he was shooting, as did many great photographers that came after him. Hell, even when I first started out in photography, I was shooting film and used the dodge and burn method when developing my photographs in the darkroom.
Surely these methods of editing cannot be considered altering an image to an unacceptable form of photography but everyone has their opinion as to what they consider a photograph. Each photographer is undoubtedly going to interpret a scene differently than the next. Just because mine may be completely different from yours doesn’t make it any less of a “photograph” than yours.


Image courtesy of huffingtonpost.com