Photography vs Photoshop – A Model’s Perspective
Touching up photos is great, I can see why everyone one wants to do it, it’s an amazing tool within reach of every non-pro Photoshop user, but it raises some very deep philosophical questions from ethics, to aspects of professional business. Here’s a former model’s perspective.
I’ve spent a lot of time infront the camera and now more so in the production aspect, around the matter of the shoot, and in post-production after the matter. The question of Photoshopping or ‘airbrushing ‘ is really a question of workflow cost for the whole production. Truly niched professional photographers will want to balance and reduce the cost of outsourcing or extra work process after-the-matter by making sure they have done as much as they can to get the right shot through the lens.
It’s a stickler of a debate within the pro-photographer community, but here’s how I think of it simply:
A photograph can be a portrait; a photoshopped image, is no longer a photograph but digital art form based on a photograph. Both are forms of art, skill, and aesthetic assessment, but each is serving a different purpose. One will try to tell the truth of a person, the other will give you a veneer of a person.
As models we are many times assumed narcissistic, in need of that touch up, or maybe airbrushing one’s squiffy eyelid from last night’s bad sleep. Maybe we aren’t allowed to feel dissappointed when they decided to airbrush my skin shrink my waist and remove my butt dimples from a glamor shoot. Well, if that’s the case I actually gave up on glamor shoots early on because I was less comfortable with rendering a falseness about my image to other people. I would rather have a fine art nude portrait with all my goosebumps and waist ripples than pose for a glamor shoot because I don’t want to ‘lie’ to people about who I am.
I know a Los Angeles Photographer who was assistant to Playboy Magazine Photographer Mario Cassili, and even though they had all the production value and assistance to produce a technically beautiful image in the lens, he too was blown away by the amount of post production ‘airbrushing’ after the fact. So I guess it’s not even down to the sensibilities of the photographer, but what is expected of the whole production. Every photographer who is truly connected with his/her work will not want to release his imagery without scrutiny and correction of color balance as being fit for purpose.
Who is paying for the photoshoot, what is the purpose of the shoot, and ultimately who will be the end point owner of the image. That pretty much determines whether you want a photograph, or a digital art piece. Finally, I’d just like to clarify one thing – A Photographer is not a digital artist, likewise I do not expect a digital artist to be able to pick up the camera and shoot me in perfect three point lighting. Separate the two roles – there may be some exceptions to this rule as skills overlap, but in those cases I would not expect a more competitive fee.
Juliana has a successful career as an Executive in Online Marketing evolving from a background of creative arts. She maintains a number of small business clients who she has helped in getting themselves personal branding, to break out from their usual industry. You can follow one of her creative profiles on Twitter @OnnaLoves