Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Obsession with Post-Editing

Since it's Thoughtful Thursday, I've decided to talk about a topic that has been bugging me for a long time. It's a topic that opens up a can of worms pretty much every single day, because it's an area that the marketing industry, not only in the area of beauty, seems to be so obsessed with. And it's one part of marketing that I absolutely detest:

You know what I mean, right? Those adverts for shampoo, mascara, foundation etc because the list in virtually eternal, which feature naturally beautiful women, promoting these products and yet the marketing department feels this underlying need to edit the images so that the person is virtually unrecognisable.

When I first saw this first picture, in a magazine, a few years back, I remember not having a clue who it was. I had a slight inkling that I recognised the face, but I couldn't quite place it. This is, sadly, not uncommon, and I've found myself several times being forced to check the small print on the side of the page, in the vain hope that it will tell me who exactly the person in the image is.

By now, you've probably seen the image before, and the adverts that came with it, so you'll probably already know who this is:

For anyone who isn't sure, it's Davina McCall. It seems ridiculous to think how unrecognisable this is, especially when, at the time that I saw this advert, I was a huge fan of Big Brother, so Davina was quite literally on my Telly Box several times a week, and I knew exactly what she looked like. So, how did I not recognise her?

Another more recent photoshopping-gone-too-far, set Twitter ablaze with fury, because it was yet again, a classic case of being told who it was, and having to just believe them, because the image that we'd been provided just didn't look like the person it was claimed to be:

"Apparently" this is Zooey Deschanel. But, honestly, if I was the quirky and natural beautiful Deschanel, I would NOT be happy for this to be slapped across billboards and magazine pages across the planet. Why? Because it doesn't look like (the hypothetical) me!

Another recent irritation of photoshopping, has been the most recent poster, for the upcoming Hunger Games film. I've cropped the image, to only feature the part that I want to emphasise, purely because otherwise this image would have been far too big, and it's still quite sizeable!

This image of Jennifer Lawrence, playing Katniss Everdeen, irritates me because the photoshopping to make her skin look "perfect" just goes against absolutely everything that the character is about. I know that in the books, her skin is made to look perfect after certain events, to make her skin look perfect for The Capitol, but that's not what her character is all about. Is Hollywood too scared to put an actress on a poster that isn't "picture perfect"?

Ultimately, it's unrealistic. However, it also reminded me of a photograph that I took of myself around seven years ago. I'm not really sure what I was doing, entirely, but I remember being sat at my desk, and I decided to play around with a small desk lamp that I had in front of me (I think that I was bored!!), and I took one photo with the light shining right on. Seriously, just one. And when I uploaded that image to my PC, I was actually amazed at the image and how it looked incredible, and yet not me at all.

Honestly, this is really me. And it was taken using only a desk lamp (no natural lighting), and a Samsung Camera Phone. So, not even a Camera. I can't remember the model of the phone, but it was probably Circa 2005/2006! And most importantly, the image has not been edited.

I've had people, including family members, tell me that it's not me, but I can assure you that it really, 100% and completely definitely is me! But, I can understand why they think it isn't, purely because the image makes my lips and eyes look bigger. However, with the lips I think that's helped by the lipgloss that I was wearing. And with the eyes, the fact that I'm looking up was probably a big (hoho!) help, alongside the eye makeup (which is impressive, since I was terrible at applying eye makeup back then!).

It got me thinking though. If I can make myself look okay (and I'm genuinely not very photogenic), including hiding the fact that I had really bad skin, then why can't professional photographers? Okay, so I know that it's defeating the point, and going against the whole looking natural thing, but surely this is more "moral" at least than completely faking it.

It's like makeup, in that we use it to amplify what we have. So, why not using lighting to amplify what we have, instead of using software to create what someone else would like us to have?

Have you ever played around with angles and lighting? 
Indeed, have you ever photoshopped yourself?
What is your opinion on using lighting and angles to make yourself look better? 
As bad as photoshopping, or just amplifying what you have?


  1. I never really edit my photos on photoshop after I've taken them. I may lighten them as sometimes the photos come out a bit dark, but I would never change my face proportions or make myself have perfect skin. I think that some companies go too far in touching up photos. I think to photograph someone in the most flattering way is fine, but I'm not too keen on touching up an image so much it barely looks like a person anymore. xx

    1. Oh yeah, totally agree about lightening images. Especially at this time of year when lighting has been awful!! I think that's the ONLY acceptable post-editing.

      I think you got it spot-on though: Flatter, don't alter!

  2. I usually use photoshop to adjust lighting or tone but I do that with all my photos because the lighting in my flat is horrendous.
    My latest Twitter/Facebook profile pic was a fluke because somehow the light was just right and I think the mirror I was holding reflected even more light onto my face so an Instagram filter was all I needed for the perfect picture.
    I really don't like the Rimmel shot - it looks like they have put her over processed head on someone elses body - but I don't mind the Hunger Games one. It's not Katniss from the book but it's a promo shot and Jennifer Lawrence has pretty flawless skin anyway (she's only 12 after all) and they can get away with the photoshopping due to the warm, golden glow they've added.
    I'm more opposed to the mascara ads that say they build volume and have a disclaimer saying "image contains false lashes and special effects".
    If photoshop is done correctly and used to iron out small problems i.e. hide a blemish, remove a stray hair etc then fine but when the whole image is processed it's a big no no.

    1. I don't, personally, agree about The Hunger Games thing, because I think it's unnecessary especially since she doesn't need it. It's certainly not as awful as the Rimmel ones, however.

      As said, I think that photoshop should only be used to adjust lighting. I don't really agree with using it to hide a blemish, because we're all human after all. None of us are perfect. But, that's just my thoughts of course, and I can appreciate why people choose to do it, because of confidence etc. I just wouldn't do it myself.

    2. is she really only 12? woaaah. I thought she was in her 20's for some reason (obviously I know the character isn't in her 20's) xxx

    3. I have a feeling that was a typo, I just checked and she's actually 21!!

  3. I don't own Photoshop - is it not outrageously expensive? - so I don't touch up my photos though I do lighten them, but not too much.

    These actresses and models are already wearing a tonne of makeup with perfect lighting which already improve their looks enough and they need photoshop on top of that is a bit ridiculous and over the top. No wonder we can't recognise them.

    I know someone on my Facebook who photoshops all her pictures before uploading them - unnecessary!!

  4. I HATE THAT IMAGE OF KATNISS AAAA.The image doesn't even look like the actress as the character never mind the book's description.

    They have tried to make her as sexy as they can without it being outrageously stupid. I never once read the books and imagined her being hot, like the whole point was that she was attractive to men (well two of them) but more for her personality and talents etc than actual pure looks. She was hairy and kind of manky coz she just didn't give a shit coz she had mouths to feed and stuff to kill but I guess hollywood wouldn't have liked that image. But still the actress is a good match considering my low expectations, i expected megan fox or some other piss take. Jennifer Anniston haha (can you even imagine that?!).



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