Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fantasy vs. reality




BEFORE










AFTER









The above photos are the work of a professional retoucher. He's very good at what he does, and his portfolio page should be required viewing for anybody who's ever looked at a beauty ad (that would be just about everyone on the planet).

I work in marketing; photo retouching is part of the business, particularly when you're dealing with clients from the entertainment industry.

I often get calls and emails from both male and female friends, who ask: "Is it true that celebrity photos and beauty ads are always retouched and airbrushed?"

Readers, there is only one answer to that question:

HELL, YEAH.

"Do celebrities and models really look like that?"

HELL, NO.

Can I get an "Amen?"

Readers, gather 'round. I'm going to let you in on something.

I have a friend who used to be a retoucher for a certain skin mag that lauds itself for the "natural look" of the models that it features.

Yeah, right.

Here's the process by which a woman achieves this "natural" look:

1. Model is chosen to be photographed by editors.
2. Publication will sometimes provide breast augmentation prior to the shoot.
3. Model is made up by a professional makeup artist. Hair is done by a professional hairstylist (hair extensions and pieces are often used).
4. Body makeup is applied.
5. Model is shot through a flattering lens, under flattering lighting, by an experienced photographer.
6. Photographs go to retoucher, who trims her waist/increases the size of her (often augmented) breasts, removes cellulite, reduces size of thighs/upper arms, enhances/reduces size of ass (as current trends dictate), brightens eye color, warms skin tone. Much more may be done; for example, a head from one photograph may be stripped onto the body of another photograph for a more appealing result.

And that, poppets, is how to achieve the "natural" look. No woman can do it on her own. An entire team is needed.

Now, I don't think that basic retouching is evil. A mole that looks normal on somebody's face in real life, or in a photograph, will truly look like a mountain when it's blown up on a poster. Digital photography can be extremely unflattering, highlighting every wrinkle, exaggerating undereye bags and whatnot. All those of us who've seen unflattering photos of ourselves and exclaimed, "Do I really look like that?!" knows that the camera sometimes does lie.

So does advertising. Don't forget it! As long as capitalism exists, there will be products to pitch and images to create. Know that ads hope to inspire some cashflow by tapping into your insecurities, particularly if you are female. Never compare your living, breathing self to a sales tool.

Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby.

9 Comments:

Anonymous shades of blue said...

I am friends with a professional photographer.
Touching up is definitely desired and required.
But there is a BIG difference between a touch up and the massive bullshit they heap upon the photographs of women in magazines.
I'm glad you wrote this piece.
BTW, love your blog.
Told my little sister about it (she lived in Boston too!).
Now we're both fans.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like retouches on my pictures... I've been known to erase a blemish or two.... remove 10 or 15 lbs... haha...

good story!

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you could only EVER get MEN to give a damn...

3:04 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

I've seen that gallery before, but every time I go there I have to click and confirm, that, yes, Halle Berry is actually more "flawless" without the re-touching.

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