I was speaking with a friend this week about her previous role working for a photo agency. They were basically involved in the buying and selling of images so the likes of celebrity magazines and the media could purchase photo shoots from photographers. What intrigued me was the near total use of post production that goes on with such photography by utilizing software to manipulate the images.
For example, a fashion shoot might like the body of a model from photo A but prefer her smile in photo B, and simply merge the smile onto photo A. Celebrities shapes, shades, and flawed bits (let’s call them what they are, normal parts of the human body) would be chopped and changed to create near ‘perfection’.
I don’t want to preach on this week about beauty and what it is or isn’t, as I’ve already touched on the topic. Instead I’d like to ask you what you think about how images that we see are totally manipulated to create an unrealistic ‘perfection’. What are the consequences of that?
This is not just limited to celebrities. The Metropolitan Police were revealed to have manipulated an image they used during the enquiry into their killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. You may recall an image they used which showed a face that on one side was the young Brazilian man, the other side the suspect they thought they were following. The police used this merged image to try and demonstrate the likeness between the suspect and de Menezes, but were later found to have changed the photos to advance their cause.
Photographers out there, how do you see such photo editing software? I purchased some, but found it so hard to use that I’ve stayed clear of it. I’m actually pleased I did, because now in my second year of photography, I’ve really had to focus on constructing the image in the lens when I take the photo, and not correcting it later. That’s been of benefit to me as I continue to learn the craft, but many love the ability to edit and in effect create different types of art.
Would love to hear your views on how manipulated imagery can, should or shouldn’t influence what we see, and how we might react to it. How for example does ‘perfect’ celebrity imagery affect our perceptions of beauty? What’s real anymore?
Have a great weekend.