Can you Photoshop me?

Posted on 9th March 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Uncategorized
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* Disclaimer:   I’m not promoting or suggesting Photoshop   is the only digital image editing programme – I am simply using the colloquial use of the terms ‘photoshop’ and ‘photoshopping’ to mean manipulating an image.


“…Hi, I would love to book a photo session but can you Photoshop me please?…”

Mirror Mirror On The Wall….

Approaching my mid-40’s I’m at that stage in life where the grey hairs are slowly winning the fight to dominate my head; my ‘laughter lines’ stick around whether I’m laughing or not and I find it harder and harder to disguise a late night!    Walking past the bathroom mirror can give me a fright first thing in the morning and I’m not sure even ‘Photoshop’ could help!

Would I take a early morning selfie and post it on social media with NO FILTERS ?   probably not to be honest!    Had mobile phone cameras and the ability to instantly share images with the world been prevalent in my youth, would I have taken & shared an early morning selfie at any age?   Now there’s a question!

Back in the Day…

Without sounding too ancient, me and my generation used 36 exposure films in our completely non-digital cameras and had no editing facilities!  GASP!  But we were all in the same boat and took as many photos as children do these days.  We just didn’t have high resolution, multi-million pixel quality images that could be displayed on a large computer screen for maximum scrutiny.   Yes the photos could be enlarged by a high street camera shop but we were happy with the unedited  – probably a bit out of focus – result.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and the word ‘Photoshop’ is part of our every day vocabulary!   Even if we don’t use the editing tool ourselves, we understand it means to digital edit and manipulate an image on a computer.

Can you Photoshop Me?

To be honest I am generally only asked this question by ladies of my own age and older. To be even MORE honest, if it was ME sitting in front of the camera, that question would pop into my mind too.   As we get older we appreciate that wrinkles and ‘life lines’ will sneak up on us. But as we see them every time we look into the mirror, it’s fair to say most of us think back to a time when our skin was perfectly smooth and wish we still radiated youth!  So why not say, can you photoshop me, to the photographer?   And it’s not just for a smooth face.  How about losing a few inches here and adding a few inches there?  I was born with shorter legs than I’d like and could quite happily take some inches off my waist and add them to my leg length!!!

Is ‘Photoshop’ Good or Bad?

I think there’s a time and place for photoshopping in image.  An ideal example of how I use Photoshop can be found in this blog link

Creating Art:

If a photography company advertises an artistic style shoot which is based on their portfolio containing heavily photoshopped images, then its pretty obvious (I’d hope) that the images are created as a piece of art.  That the photographer practically paints onto the original image.  That the subject is therefore edited in an artistic way and the end photo is not meant to represent them in a realistic manner.

Non-Art Photoshoots:

When a customer comes for a ‘normal’ shoot and says,  Can you photoshop me, I make a considered reply.  Mostly they’re laughing when they say it so I let the request go unanswered.   I have had customers make serious requests however.   I therefore say yes but explain I will always ensure the end result is an honest representation.  If they are referring to wrinkles, lines or creases on their face (let’s call them facial lines from here on in), AND those lines are age related, I WILL  spend some time editing them to make them less prominent.   Why not just delete them?   A customer may wish the lines would vanish but to take this request literally, this would create an odd looking photo.

Turn me into a model!

If the customer asks me to make their body smaller, I would do this by posing them in flattering ways while taking their photo.  There are poses and positions that make men & woman appear bigger or smaller.  Simple techniques can ensure a person is photographed in the most flattering way.   If, however, someone is especially insecure and after viewing their images still feels additional editing could be done, I can make suitable & sensible edits.   But, as with the ‘facial line’ edits, it would be irresponsible of me to totally change someone’s appearance.   It is my personal choice, therefore to say that I won’t turn them into a model if they actually mean changing their body shop out of recognition.

Non-Permanent Blemishes or Marks:

Obviously there are times I will be asked to remove bruises, cuts, plasters, holes or marks on clothes etc from images.  These I have no problems whatsoever in removing.

So that covers WHAT I will not edit.  How about WHO will I not edit?

For any reason other than asking me to remove non-permanent blemishes, if a child or teenager said can you photoshop me, I’d be very frank and say no!  That’s my personal opinion and they’d have to do a lot of persuading to get me to change my mind.

I am a freelance photographer & also have a studio and offer a large variety of shoots as you can see from my website.  I also regularly work for two different photography companies.  One is a pre-school & nursery photographers and the other specialises in taking photos at Dance Schools.  At the Dance school photoshoots I’d say that sadly 99% of the 14-17yr old girls say they HATE their own picture but LOVE the ones of their mates.  They use very strong language and I do try to take it with a pinch of salt.  I always tell them they look beautiful in their photo and the friends with them always agree.  It therefore seems an automatic response to not like the way you look, as if you can’t admit you ‘look okay’.

School Education

This is the age group I’m most worried about when it comes to the ability to edit or manipulate their image.   There are so many editing apps on phones these days that can change someone’s appearance and different filters to make them look ‘perfect’ in their photos.   There are makeup tutorials on how to change the shape of your face.

My eldest son recently brought home a piece of work he created in school Art lessons.  It was a computer ‘edited’ selfie where they were creating abstract art.   They had fun swirling their chins, creating horns from their hair and making wiggly eyebrows etc…   This shows children of the capabilities computer editing programmes like Photoshop have to change an image like a face so easily.  I wonder if they were able to make the leap from editing their faces to seeing how similar edits were made to celebrities in magazines?

Role Models

Growing up over the last 40 years I’ve seen the change in acceptance over super skinny ‘size zero’ models and the call for more curvy models to be used in advertising.   It’s a very slow shift in acceptance, however, as ‘celebrities’ are still being changed for magazines and adverts to what I consider to be extreme.    But are we 100% sure todays teenagers KNOW these images aren’t real?  I’m sure they know make-up artists & hair stylists make celebrities look their best but how aware are our children of magazine images being ‘photoshopped’?  I found this on youtube… see what I mean?

Do we need to educate them on how we are being shown false versions of these people?   Do we need to explain that even actors, singers & models who are considered to be naturally attractive and have enviable body shapes are being edited to look even smoother and thinner?   Yes I think we do!

A bit of Homework!

When working at home, my own children see me editing images. But being boys (average age 12 yrs), they aren’t interested in how facial lines can be smoothed or bodies can be edited to become thinner.   My youngest is so far from body awareness we have to remind him to use a brush in the mornings!  My eldest is of the age where haircuts and stylish clothes are becoming important.  When I recently got him in front of the camera, this was his favourite photo – none of the smiley ones!  BUT importantly he did not say, mum can you photoshop me !!!  It may be a boy thing and had girls, our conversations would probably be different but I would be devastated if I was asked that question.  What do you think we can do about this ‘need’ to be photoshopped?

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