Photo enhancement going too far?

Before and afterThe Telegraph UK has an interesting article talking about how everyone from the kid next door to Hollywood celebrities are getting work done on their photographs.

The manipulation of photos is a given in the image-is-everything world of celebrity. Earlier this week, the Duchess of York appeared in Italian Vogue. With a tiny waist, sculptured cheekbones and a wrinkle-free face, she bore no relation to the frumpy Fergie who looked every one of her 47 years when papped out jogging recently.

The author theorizes that social networking services like Facebook are partially responsible. That users of those services want to look as attractive as possible to other members and that they are willing to pay to do so.

Personally I have retouched portraits of clients, friends and family. I think it’s possible to make flattering alterations without being false. Technique, camera angle, lighting, 12 megapixel clarity and a dozen other factors all contribute to images that may be technically “true” but neglect the fact that our eyes and brain don’t work that way. That human vision is colored by memory and attention and feeling. In a real sense, altering a photo to reflect that is more real than real, if you get my drift.

But I don’t alter photos to the extent described in this article. And I’m sure you’ve all seen the plastic, lifeless doll children that some people think are beautiful. That’s just creepy as hell.

What’s your opinion on retouching portraits?

By John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.