The evolution of retouching…

I have stumbled across this article and though I would share it with you. It posed the question is retouching “Evolution or Creation”

““No wonder our perception of [the] beauty [industry] is distorted”

Retouching has received a lot of bad press over the past few years – who can forget the Dove, Campaign for Real Beauty, “Evolution” video advertisement, it shows an average looking girl receiving a full makeover and magically one minute and ten seconds later she is presented up on a billboard advertisement for a brand of foundation makeup.

Arguable, the video is the one item that has fueled the debate between the good or evil of photo retouching the most. Of course, that was the whole point of the Dove campaign. Retouchers around the world have gone into hiding because of this issue. Some have even lost their jobs. Has your perception of beauty been distorted or has a brilliant advertising campaign altered your thoughts on the subject altogether?

It is no secret that there is no such thing as a perfect person. Perfect complexions are non existent and everyone has some sort of physical flaw no matter who they are.

Every morning when I look in the mirror, I find a list of things that I would like to change. Is this because I saw a photograph of some male model that had been retouched to perfection? Maybe, but it could also be because I saw a guy on the street the other day and found something like an eye color or hair style that I liked better than my own. Although, after days on end of doing my job I do find myself mentally retouching people in real life, I highly doubt that the person I’m stealing my new look from has actually been affected by my mental photoshop powers. We, as humans, are competitive creatures and strive to provide ourselves with the objects of our desires. That being said, I think part of the problem with peoples’ misunderstanding of retouching is that because they know that they will never be able to acquire this object of their desire because it is too perfect; They become jealous and angry.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

-A.P. Lovecraft

So why does the blame get pushed onto retouchers? The video clearly shows professional makeup artists and professional hair stylists, as well as perfect lighting that enhances the models beauty. Well, We have all seen people with makeup on and most of us have had a haircut. Some of us have even had a complete stranger do our hair and or makeup with the thought that they will look prettier after it has been done. A select few understand why they look better in different light situations and modify their “look” for those situations on a case by case basis. We are used to this and accept it as part of how the world turns. How many people really know whats going on in inside photoshop? Besides what the media tells them that is. Really, think to your self, when is the last time you looked up how some of the filters and “tricks” work on a mathematical pixel by pixel level.

Truth is, We really know that these images are “fixed”. In certain situations, the images are purposely directed towards extreme perfection. The images of hyper realistic beauty are artistic interpretations, they are meant to tell a story and we are meant to understand them as fiction. An advertisement is art that attracts the viewer to the intended product or… Thing. The problem starts when this suspension of disbelief gets suspended.

Remember that Dove video? I would reconsider blaming this one all on the retoucher. Some intense editing with into making this video to get its point across and effect your emotions so strongly. As stated in a behind the scenes video,  One Hundred and Eighteen final still images were sorted threw to provide the best fifty-five that told the story. Sound clips such as gun shots and horses running were added to increase the drama in an almost subliminal way. The video doesn’t even use photoshop. The photoshop interface was “photoshoped” to increase the effectiveness of the story. All of this and the retouchers still get blamed for everything. More hours of post production went into this video than any Retoucher would spend on the actual image for the makeup lines billboard. What’s the difference?

As an industry, photographers, retouchers, makeup artists, hair stylists play with how you see and perceive things.  This video plays with your emotions. By this point in life, you probably have learned to follow what your emotions tell you and you trust rather than how your eye may be deceived. If you weren’t so strongly effected by this videos controversial content you may have noticed that the very subject that they were trying to unveil to you was also being used to do the unveiling. This to me makes nothing more than brilliant advertising; brilliant advertising that strikes you to the core to affect how you perceive other products and how you look at the world of advertising around you. It’s like being able to sell someone a car for twice the cost that they themselves have just traded in.

Now, understand there are no excuses for bad retouching or retouching that has gone too far. The real point is that retouching is not evil. For the most part, good retouching goes unnoticed and many retouchers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet (if you can get them out of the dark rooms that they lock themselves in for days on end). You shouldn’t immediately pass judgment onto the Retoucher, who actually is only one person in the team of people creating these images. Some times the work they do is taken off a list one item at a time and they are simply using their skills in Photoshop to do what they are told to do.

Maybe, we should get together and create a national “hug a Retoucher day” just to say “I’m sorry that I jumped to conclusions about your work”. After all if your nice enough, you could probably convince them to help you out with some of those wrinkles or that 10 pounds that you acquired over thanksgiving and the rest of your holidays.

Oh, thats right… you wouldn’t want to loose the 10 pounds and be healthy if it wasn’t for the retoucher friends work on that one ad campaign.

-Article from Exposing Fashion