Here are some of the most common phrases I hear on a portrait shoot lately...
"Can you make me skinny?
"Can you Photoshop my double chin?"
"You'll retouch these, right?"
"Please just shoot me from the neck up, I don't want my body in the photo."
"You'll do some Photoshop magic on these, right?
I see nothing wrong with wanting to look our very best in photos. I work to do that with every image I take both in the camera and with a little Photoshop magic. But I am so saddened by the fact that most of us feel our very best isn't good enough. The truth is, yes I can make you skinny. In Photoshop, I can make myself a foot taller, 10 pounds skinnier and blonde. I've become quite good slimming and smoothing in Photoshop with the many requests I get. But I hate doing it. And I won't use overly edited portraits in my portfolio either. I'd rather make you feel great during your portrait session so you look great in your photo. I believe inner beauty is the best kind of beauty and the right photographer can make a subject's inner beauty shine in photos.
There has been a fascination with the amount of airbrushing and other Photoshop tricks used on celebrities and models in the past several years. I have to say, the use of Photoshop in magazines and advertizing has gotten to the place where many people don't even look real in their images. Whose calf has the same diameter as their thigh? I don't get it. But while their thighs don't even touch, their backside juts out like a shelf. Nature doesn't work this way people! Terms like thigh gap, bikini bridge and bubble butt make me want to throw things. Even more frustrating is the fact that these people are already gorgeous. Take a look at the image below (found on the model's Instagram account). This image is of a swimsuit model before (bottom) and after (top) Photoshop. I contend she was absolutely gorgeous to start (holding her breath under water no less). I found this image in an article where the model spoke out against the alterations done to her body.
I'm thrilled to see celebrities and models standing up and speaking out about the gross overuse of Photoshop in the media. Jamie Lee Curtis was a total trend setter posing in 2002 for More Magazine in a sports bra and spandex shorts without touch ups. I love Keira Knightley posing topless on the cover of Interview Magazine with the one condition that her breasts would not be touched up to look larger. I'm so over the countless articles featuring celebrities caught without their makeup as if it's a crime to look natural. I was thrilled to see Nicole Murphy, Elisabetta Canalis and Beverly Johnson pose without makeup proudly for Inside Edition. Of course, I was a fan of Annie Lennox even before she refused extensive air brushing on her latest album cover.
I've suffered from weight fluctuation and the resulting self-esteem fluctuation that comes with it my entire life. This might somehow be related to my food photography post. But I digress. I can absolutely relate to my clients when I see the pained expressions on their faces at the thought of standing in front of the camera. How can we all look in the mirror every day without comparing ourselves to the unrealistic images we see in the media? I suggest all my clients take a look at my post on power posing and what it can do for your self esteem before a portrait session. And I've posted a little sign on the mirror in my studio bathroom that says "I accept myself unconditionally right now." I've tried to make that my own personal mantra. I approach every shoot knowing I am photographing a beautiful person. My goal is to capture their true beauty. Inside and out.