As long as there have been photographs, there has been photo manipulation. It’s interesting, because this art form came about to capture reality, but as soon as we figured out how, we started altering that reality.
For instance, I have a baby picture of my Dad, taken at a portrait studio over 7 decades ago. My sweet chubby baby Daddy has rosy cheeks that are hand tinted and the lushest painted on eyelashes that ever adorned a baby’s face. He even appears to be wearing just the slightest hint of lip color. Hand tinted of course.
Later came airbrushing and composite photos. When I worked at the advertising agency in Atlanta (I’m not telling how many decades ago) there was big dust up over the fact that TV Guide used a “photo” of Oprah on the magazine cover that was Oprah’s head on Ann Margaret’s body. This composite caused a bit of outrage, but the technology was already “out of the bag” so to speak and after that we used it often to make funny birthday cards for colleagues and other such hilarity. I remember distinctly one composite of my boss’s head on Queen Elizabeth’s body as she sat on her royal throne. It was very fitting.
Now we have Photoshop, which allows multiple ways to manipulate photographs, and when we look at advertising images it’s hard to know what is real and what is the product of a skilled art director or photo retoucher. Do the models in cosmetic ads really have blemish free skin, no wrinkles, no cellulite, no bumps, lumps, spider veins, varicose veins or moles? (Except Cindy Crawford’s famous mole of course)
In fact, it almost seems a sure bet that the images are not real which is really a shame because it adds to the “unbelievable factor” already inherent in many cosmetics ads.
The newest thing I’ve observed (which frankly causes me to laugh uncontrollably) are these popup internet ads with the roll over feature that shows a woman’s face before using the miracle firming skin cream, age reducer, wrinkle reducer etc. As you roll your cursor over her face she amazingly becomes MANY years younger. I often wonder what art director thinks this is believable. Seriously, the change is so dramatic, the model goes from looking like Baba Yaga the hag from Russian folklore to Barbie-like perfection.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Sadly, when a photo has been so obviously manipulated it makes me wonder why. My thought is the product must not work that well or the visible results would not have to be so blatantly faked.
What do YOU think? Does it bother you that you can’t believe your eyes anymore? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.
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