This issue has come up every now and then in our conversations with clients. It usually goes like this…
“My arms are huge. I want to hide it… or maybe you can Photoshop it smaller after our shoot…”
“Can you make my face look less round with Photoshop?”
“I don’t like my tummy. It’s very easy to Photoshop, right?”
(Random info: By the way, Photoshop shouldn’t be used as a verb, meaning, all those ways of describing Photoshop at the top is not the correct usage of the word. Read more here)
So, back to our conversation. While I understand that not everyone loves EVERY part of themselves equally (hey, I have a tummy too, after two kids!) and hope their photographer is a magician, I think editing an image too much in Photoshop is a distortion of reality. We would much rather use the right choice of angles & lenses, lighting and cropping to make you appear slimmer, rather than relying on Photoshop to solve all these ‘problems’. Naturally, in an event like a wedding where everything moves so quickly, it’s not possible to make sure every angle is a ‘perfect’ one for you. (By the way, we did have a request once by a bride to only shoot her from the right side during the entire wedding. Uhm… not possible!?)
We usually edit our images to enhance the colour and contrast, and when we create an album, we work on making skin a bit more flawless (but not plastic fake). So if a request such as the above comes to us, we will work on it for the album or print, but it will be done minimally and realistically. We really do not believe in creating a false representation of someone through editing.
After all, what kind of satisfaction would it get if you looked at your photos and saw ‘perfection’ but when you look in the mirror, you feel sad and upset?
Interestingly, I wrote this post some time ago but hesitated to share it, until I read another photographer’s post that came out recently about a similar topic. Victoria Caroline who photographs boudoirs wrote in her Facebook post:
I am (blank)’s husband, ********. I am writing to you because I recently received an album containing images you took of my wife. I don’t want you to think that I am in any way upset with you….but I have some food for thought that I would like to pass on to you. I have been with my wife since we were 18 years old, and we have two beautiful children together. We have had many ups and downs over the years, and I think…well, actually I KNOW that my wife did these pictures for me to “spice things up”. She sometimes complains that I must not find her attractive, that she wouldn’t blame me if I ever found someone younger. When I opened the album that she gave to me, my heart sank. These pictures…while they are beautiful and you are clearly a very talented photographer….they are not my wife. You made every one of her “flaws” disappear…and while I’m sure this is exactly what she asked you to do, it took away everything that makes up our life. When you took away her stretch marks, you took away the documentation of my children. When you took away her wrinkles, you took away over two decades of our laughter, and our worries. When you took away her cellulite, you took away her love of baking and all the goodies we have eaten over the years. I am not telling you all of this to make you feel horrible, you’re just doing your job and I get that. I am actually writing you to thank you. Seeing these images made me realize that I honestly do not tell my wife enough how much I LOVE her and adore her just as she is. She hears it so seldom, that she actually thought these photoshopped images are what I wanted and needed her to look like. I have to do better, and for the rest of my days I am going to celebrate her in all her imperfectness. Thanks for the reminder.
It was a real reminder to her about altering the reality of life through her images.
I believe everyone is beautiful, and confidence comes from how you carry yourself in front of the camera. Practice looking at yourself in the mirror daily, and reminding yourself of the traits that make you a beautiful person on the inside. Even if you started with hesitation, I guarantee, over time, your face will naturally glow from this confidence.
And then, trust your photographer to create the best possible portrait of you, that is true to yourself.