The Effects of Photoshop on Society - Page 4 - the Fashion Spot
 
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08-07-2010
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It makes me wonder if we live in a real world of in a let's make a magic one like we were in a fairy tale... I think its socially decadent how our culture is pushed to watch massive retouched images and expect theres gonna be no impact on it

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09-07-2010
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I think it's being permanently harmful. The image of an individual in the mind's eye has shifted so much that an artificial image of beauty starts to replace a natural one. I'm sure you could link it to the extent to which botox, collagen, spray tans, surgery etc are being used. Overusing photoshop perpetuates a kind of myth of what people should look like and, in turn, people go out and try to make themselves look like that in all sorts of extreme ways

Of course I suppose it's hardly a novel thing. History people have constantly been altering themselves to fit an artificial image of beauty (corsets, foot binding, etc)

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12-07-2010
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Photoshop has become art itself where no longer the subject (Model) is real, but an image created by an artist. Unlike regular art, this type of art not only produces harm to those who pick it up and see it, but also to the subject itself.
A photographers desicion now a days is based on looking at a model and think to themselves, is this going to take me 2 hours to retouch or days!

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13-07-2010
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To be honest I don't get the sturm und drang over photoshop. Of course it is funny and snark worthy when they amputate a leg or have two setting suns, but editing a photo subject's appearance is not automatically deleterious. Models and actresses have been having their appearances enhanced since the 1930s if not before then and in each generation at least one model or actress has made it known that what we see on the screen and in magazines is a lot of smoke and mirrors.

Now it would be one thing if they were doing before and after pictures and photo editing was used to make the before look worse and / or the after look better. I also have an issue when the image of a celebrity is significantly distorted, e.g., making a 5'4" actress who wears a size 6 look like she's 5'9" and wears a size 2. But I don't see the big deal if it is an anonymous model. What is the big deal with Sasha Pivovarova's image being tampered with in the latest Dior ad? I think it was an ad for lipstick and nail color, now if they tampered with the color and texture of the lipstick and nail color that would be an issue, but is the fact that they photoshopped the elf out of Sasha patently wrong?

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13-07-2010
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Originally Posted by agee View Post
Now it would be one thing if they were doing before and after pictures and photo editing was used to make the before look worse and / or the after look better. I also have an issue when the image of a celebrity is significantly distorted, e.g., making a 5'4" actress who wears a size 6 look like she's 5'9" and wears a size 2. But I don't see the big deal if it is an anonymous model. What is the big deal with Sasha Pivovarova's image being tampered with in the latest Dior ad? I think it was an ad for lipstick and nail color, now if they tampered with the color and texture of the lipstick and nail color that would be an issue, but is the fact that they photoshopped the elf out of Sasha patently wrong?
Yes. There are plenty of non-elf models around and whatever they wanted to convey would be better conveyed with a real person who possessed the emotion they wanted to show.

Of course, there have been image manipulation processes as long as there have been cameras. But what is different is the lack of creative process involved in getting where you want with the image. It seems like an inordinate number of people are working with this who have no idea what they're doing.

I'm saying - it seems - there could be other explanations. Like lack of time...


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Yes. There are plenty of non-elf models around and whatever they wanted to convey would be better conveyed with a real person who possessed the emotion they wanted to show.

Of course, there have been image manipulation processes as long as there have been cameras. But what is different is the lack of creative process involved in getting where you want with the image. It seems like an inordinate number of people are working with this who have no idea what they're doing.

I'm saying - it seems - there could be other explanations. Like lack of time...
When I saw the photo, I also questioned why they did not cast a more conventionally pretty model in the campaign like Edita or Snejana and it still mystifies me, but that does not make it wrong in my book. To me it is only wrong if we find out that Sasha was sleeping with someone or the casting director was getting kickbacks from Sasha's agent or somesuch.

My theory is that while I don't think that modeling is rocket science, carrying a campaign for a major brand is not something that just any model with a pretty face can do. I think that there are relatively few models that can be relied upon to deliver and then that list has to be culled further when you take into account that some models on the short list may be under contract to other brands. I also think that Sasha is well liked by many in the industry and that may have been a factor as well. Yeah, the folks at Dior may have made the decision after discussing the matter for five minutes in a staff meeting when they could have spent a few days poring over photos and calling up agents and casting directors which is in and of itself costly (and whose to say they did not), but that does not make it wrong if they went the short and sure route. Basically I interpret that you think that it is wrong that Sasha got booked for a job that another model deserved presumably because she does not look like an elf. Also, I am sorry but I am not clear what you mean about "the lack of creative process involved in getting where you want with the image."

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13-07-2010
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When I saw the photo, I also questioned why they did not cast a more conventionally pretty model in the campaign like Edita or Snejana and it still mystifies me, but that does not make it wrong in my book. To me it is only wrong if we find out that Sasha was sleeping with someone or the casting director was getting kickbacks from Sasha's agent or somesuch.

My theory is that while I don't think that modeling is rocket science, carrying a campaign for a major brand is not something that just any model with a pretty face can do. I think that there are relatively few models that can be relied upon to deliver and then that list has to be culled further when you take into account that some models on the short list may be under contract to other brands. I also think that Sasha is well liked by many in the industry and that may have been a factor as well. Yeah, the folks at Dior may have made the decision after discussing the matter for five minutes in a staff meeting when they could have spent a few days poring over photos and calling up agents and casting directors which is in and of itself costly (and whose to say they did not), but that does not make it wrong if they went the short and sure route. Basically I interpret that you think that it is wrong that Sasha got booked for a job that another model deserved presumably because she does not look like an elf. Also, I am sorry but I am not clear what you mean about "the lack of creative process involved in getting where you want with the image."
I don't care who deserved it. What bothers me is that it's a horrible ad that lacks Sasha's personality and has no charm. It looks like they were lacking in the creative department to make an image which both satisfied their own vision and resonated Sasha's unique personality. I guess it's a bad casting decision or something...

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11-10-2010
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I'm literally in the process of writing up a book proposal on a similar subject. Not exactly on the effects of Photoshop on society, but examples of Photoshop in the advertising and fashion world.

I've been a high-end senior retoucher for a number of years now and have worked on some of the biggest models, actresses, etc.

For the record: When you see missing limbs, waists that are too thin, skin that is too polished, etc, it's probably NOT the retoucher's fault. It's probably either a) the photographer b) the art/creative director/ad agency or c) the editor who is instructing the retoucher what to do. After all, they are the client, the retoucher is being paid to do what they're told.

A lot of you bring up good points, but for those of you defending retouching, I don't think you quite 'get it.' Everything that you see in a magazine is retouched. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. From the models to the products to the clothes to the can of soup. Everything that you see has been polished, smoothed away, essentially, turned into something plastic and fake.

Has this affected our society? Totally. Is it good for young minds (and older minds, for that matter, to see Julianne Moore or Nicole Kidman on Vogue, lengthened and thinned out)? NO. It's not.

There's a definite place for retouching, to enhance photos, add drama, remove objects/add objects, clean up, etc. But to smooth out a 17 year old's skin to an impossible level for a make-up ad or moisturizer that she does not actually use, just to move a product? To make a 34 year-old mother of three, Heidi Klum, look 14 years younger with an impossible body? To beef up Sigrid Agren's emaciated arms so she can look 'healthy' or smooth out Anna Selezneva's jutting bones so she doesn't look like a walking skeleton?

I'm sorry, but that, in my mind, is wrong.


Last edited by TheVeed; 11-10-2010 at 10:38 PM.
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15-10-2010
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From the New York Times:

By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: December 2, 2009

PARIS

VALÉRIE BOYER is 47, a member of the French parliament and a divorced mother of three. She is tall, fashionable and, dare we say it, slim.

But she has also created a small furor here and abroad with her latest proposal: a draft law that would require all digitally altered photographs of people used in advertising be labeled as retouched.

Some think such a law would destroy photographic art; some think it might help reduce anorexia; some say the idea is aimed at the wrong target, given that nearly every advertising photograph is retouched. Others believe such a label might sensitize people to the fakery involved in most of the advertising images with which they’re bludgeoned.

Underneath it all is an emotional debate about what it is to be attractive or unattractive, and whether the changing ideals of beauty — from Sophia Loren to Twiggy — have ever been realistic.

“Michelangelo painted idealized bodies, so the idea of idealized beauty was already there,” said Anne-Florence Schmitt, editor of Madame Figaro, the newspaper’s glossy woman’s magazine. “It’s a fake debate.”

For Ms. Boyer, who has a background in health administration, the fight is really about her two teenage daughters, 16 and 17, and the pressures on young women to match the fashionable ideal of a thin body and perfect skin.

“I got interested in the subject of the body because it’s really a mother’s reflection,” she said. “It’s the closeness I have to adolescents that drove me to become interested in these subjects.”

It is a topic that consumes her. “If someone wants to make life a success, wants to feel good in their skin, wants to be part of society, one has to be thin or skinny, and then it’s not enough — one will have his body transformed with software that alters the image, so we enter a standardized and brainwashed world, and those who aren’t part of it are excluded from society.”

Her proposed law has yet to be voted on in the National Assembly, where Ms. Boyer sits as a member of the center-right from heavily Socialist Marseille. The legislation is aimed at advertising, though its preamble suggests expanding the measure to other kinds of photographs. Her initiative has already brought her attention, as part of a larger, passionate and confused debate about models, beauty and anorexia.

It’s a debate that goes well beyond France. In the United States, Self magazine, which champions accepting one’s “true self,” recently published a thinned-down photo of the singer Kelly Clarkson, with a headline pushing “total body confidence.” Lucy Danziger, Self’s editor, defended the photo as “the truest we have ever put out there,” but many disagreed. There was also a fuss about a bizarrely retouched photo of the model Filippa Hamilton, whose waist was reduced to the width of her head, for a Ralph Lauren ad in Japan. Brigitte, a popular German woman’s magazine, decided last month that as of 2010 it would only use photos of “ordinary” women. The editor, Andreas Lebert, said he was “fed up” with retouching photos of what he considered underweight models.

In France, Inčs de La Fressange, a former model and clothes designer, calls Ms. Boyer’s bill “demagogic and stupid,” arguing that the causes of anorexia are complex.

Dominique Issermann, a French fashion photographer, thinks that Ms. Boyer has not only misunderstood the problem, but also the nature of photography itself. “There is this illusion that photography is ‘true,’ ” she said. But a camera can easily distort reality through the use of a different lens without any retouching. “As soon as you frame something you exclude something else,” she said, adding that photographs are “a piece of reality, but the reality of the world is different.” In family photos, for instance, “Someone always says, ‘That doesn’t look like you at all.’ ”

For Ms. Issermann, the problem is not photography, but a “prepubescent style” — a kind of adolescent androgyny, in which skinny, not very muscular young men are paired with skinny, not very curvaceous girls “disguised as women.” Still, she said, digital pictures often need retouching “to recreate the emotion that caused you to press the shutter in the first place.”

She pointed to her well-known shot of Keira Knightley taken for Chanel. Most people think the picture was retouched to enlarge Ms. Knightley’s partly exposed breast, Ms. Issermann said, but in fact the retouching was done “to add a bit on the thigh. She’s too thin there.”

“Between Botero and Giacometti, the world finds its way,” she said. “We still want heavenly people in a heavenly light. It’s the paradise of the image.”

But there are those in France who support Ms. Boyer’s labeling proposal. Philippe Jeammet, professor of psychiatry at the Université Paris Descartes, said it “is the least we could do.” He said that photos “are a factor of influence, especially for the most vulnerable young girls.” He would go further. “There should even be sanctions,” he said. “Retouched photos are a deception, an illusion, and we must think about the consequences.”

For Ms. Boyer, the issue is about standards and lying. She was recently struck by a magazine headline that read: “Be who you are!” On the back cover was an obviously Photoshopped picture of a teenager.

“The pictures contradict the message,” she said, and that contradiction is evidence of the “schizophrenia” that exists between “the representation of an ideal world, a very thin, tanned and white-toothed woman without wrinkles,” and “the plebe who has health problems, who doesn’t necessarily have white teeth, has wrinkles and puts on weight.”

Ms. Boyer knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider. Her parents were pieds noirs who fled from Algeria in 1962 with nothing but “a beach bag, with photo albums, and my mother took the silverware and a doll they had just given me,” she said. The experience and the memories pushed her into politics.

Ms. Boyer drew attention last year when she drafted another law, which would make the promotion of extreme dieting a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of some $45,000. That law is largely aimed at Internet sites and blogs advocating an “anorexic lifestyle” like the pro-ana (for pro-anorexia) movement, which began in the United States. It passed the French lower house, but is stuck in the Senate.

There are several thousand pro-ana Web sites in France, Ms. Boyer said, and up to 40,000 women suffer from anorexia.

“Children look a lot at the Internet,” she said, adding, “even if you’re close by, even if you’re attentive, even if you love them a lot, that’s not enough to protect them. Especially when they target them, because pro-ana blogs are aimed at young girls in particular, they give them perverse advice, like, ‘Lie to your mother, say you’re going to eat at a friend’s house, cut your hair so you don’t have to say that you’re losing it.’ ”

But she’s also been involved in the government’s efforts to cope with obesity, more prevalent in France than many imagine. Two-thirds of French men and half of all women ages 35 to 74 are thought to be overweight, while a fifth of all adults are considered obese, according to a recent study by the Institut Pasteur. Already advertisements for highly caloric foods like soda and candy require labels that, for example, warn people to “avoid eating foods that are too greasy, too sugary, too salty.”

Christine Leiritz, chief editor of the French magazine Marie Claire, compared the labels to those Ms. Boyer wants on retouched photographs, suggesting that they will only tell people what they already know.

“Our readers are not idiots,” Ms. Leiritz said, “especially when they see those celebrities who are 50 and look 23,” like a much-remarked recent fashion shot of Sharon Stone that appeared this August in Paris Match. “Of course they’re all retouched.”

Magazines must police themselves, Ms. Leiritz said, but at the same time, “fashion provides a dream” that is important for women. “It’s not just explaining what to wear. I think a women’s magazine is also partly a dream, which is made possible by a certain perfection in image.”

Ms. Boyer herself loves fashion magazines. Shown a French Vogue that had a photograph of a reclining woman’s torso attached to a dog’s hindquarters, and asked if the photo needed to be labeled as retouched, she grabbed the magazine and said, “Magnificent!”

“I buy tons of women’s magazines. I love fashion and I love life,” she said. “But it seems to me that as a matter of professional ethics, you have to warn people that the image of the body has been modified.”

It’s a matter of honesty, she insisted. “Do you think you have to lie in order to dream? We must treat the public as adults, and I think it’s a true feminist battle. I don’t understand why women’s magazines aren’t rallying to it.”

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15-10-2010
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Honestly, which readers would actually like to see the word "retouched" on page of a magazine with a couple hundred pages? Does blatantly telling a girl images are retouched suddenly make them want to eat again?

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15-10-2010
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Honestly, which readers would actually like to see the word "retouched" on page of a magazine with a couple hundred pages? Does blatantly telling a girl images are retouched suddenly make them want to eat again?
I don't think it would have immediate results of that sort, but I do think it would raise awareness that this unrealistic image (for a great many people) that fashion is so adept at promoting, is in fact just that; unrealistic. I'm not one to reject art in any form, and fashion is definitely art, but unlike a lot of other art forms, it plays a practical purpose and should be regulated because of it. Companies are welcome to present themselves any way they like - anorexic-looking bodies and blemish-free faces included - but to insinuate to the public that this is any more substantial than fantasy is wrong. Is Valerie Boyer's idea the right way to go about regulating Photoshop abuse? I'm not sure, but I think it has merit.

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16-10-2010
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I'll have to say the article is definitely thought provoking. My initial reaction to it was that people should be intelligent enough to know that the majority of photos they look at(especially in fashion magazines) are retouched but then i realize it wouldn't be fair to expect teenagers to just automatically know that. Especially when you have models who are 16-17 being dressed up to look much older and yet still having a super slim body.

By the time these teenagers get into their 20's, most will either pack on some weight or their bodies will dramatically change from the way it looked when they were 16 and they will be wondering why they can't have the body that these models have. When in actuality those bodies aren't 100% real either! It's all one big lie and us people in the fashion industry promote the lie without properly informing people.

Now who to blame... i'd say there's quite a few parties to blame, starting from the designer and trickling all the way down to the magazine.

Do I think we should stop advertising the photo's? No
Do I think we should have more editorials educating people on retouching in the same magazines where this is rampant? Yes

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17-10-2010
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Honestly, which readers would actually like to see the word "retouched" on page of a magazine with a couple hundred pages? Does blatantly telling a girl images are retouched suddenly make them want to eat again?
We label some ads with 'eyelash extensions' or whatever, so what's the difference? Even labeling the retouching house that worked on it would be a step in the right direction; photographers, stylists, etc are labeled, and obviously they were used.

It's not just about weight, it's about self-esteem. Girls are notorious for having low self-esteem due to the ridiculous standards of beauty that they are held to. It would be a step in the right direction in letting people know that not even models and actresses are as beautiful as they seem.

Like Coco Rocha once said: "It's all about the computer these days. People might look at a picture of me and say, 'Wow, I wish I had her body,' but they should realise that I often look at a picture of myself and say, 'Wow, I wish I had my body.'"

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17-10-2010
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I don't think that seeing the lack of reality in a photo will stop everyone from wanting to get that unrealistic standard of "beauty". The word "retouched" accentuates the fact that the picture was purposely created to be like that to make the model more beautiful. It's basically telling you what beautiful should look like.

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21-10-2010
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I've been a high-end senior retoucher for a number of years now and have worked on some of the biggest models, actresses, etc.

For the record: When you see missing limbs, waists that are too thin, skin that is too polished, etc, it's probably NOT the retoucher's fault. It's probably either a) the photographer b) the art/creative director/ad agency or c) the editor who is instructing the retoucher what to do. After all, they are the client, the retoucher is being paid to do what they're told.



Has this affected our society? Totally. Is it good for young minds (and older minds, for that matter, to see Julianne Moore or Nicole Kidman on Vogue, lengthened and thinned out)? NO. It's not.
Thanks for this post, I find your attitude really interesting, coming from a "high-end senior retoucher" in the business. Your job must be fascinating! Are you, although against the principles, involved in doing touch ups such as you've mentioned above - those that make reality unattainable? Or do you only really clean pictures up? Would you actually turn down a job that was, for example, to make Beyonce look thinner than she really is?

I wonder if a lot of the retouchers, who as you say are under direction from their bosses, actually disagree with what they're doing. Maybe they should all go on strike! But then I guess they wouldn't get any work...

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