I suppose many people from the retouching world (or not) woke up to this piece of article on your news thread this morning, about this lady (Marie Southard - an associate fashion & beauty editor
Right away, it feels the retouching aspect of things are put to questions again. Giving in recent years more and more people questioning about the ridiculous aspects of how much they photoshop people, which always makes a good piece of arguing subject.
Here's usually what you see people comment over about the 'over-retouching' issue:
- "OMG! I almost cannot recognise who she/he is!!"
- "That's how the glossy magazines make us real woman ashame of ourselves."
- "How can we comply to the society's standard of beauty when we are force-fed this is the image of a beautiful woman? When the woman on the front cover is not even 100% real!?"
- "Big girl is beautiful, we don't need to be retouched!"
So there has been quite a bit of negative view towards the retouching industry. I guess what people feel is that they are being lied to, when it's commonly known a picture can worth a thousand words, but what they see is not real. In daily occurrences being sold to an image that does not exist in real life. Now putting it that way into words, it does sound like a scam. So, is it?
I suppose is a bit of yes and no. But before we go any further, let's have a look (a few) what the retouchers whom Ms. Southard has contacted have sent her.
So what are we seeing here?? What is beautiful?
We can see the retouchers have retouched the image according to what their culture deem "beautiful", and it's a very subjective thing. Most of the retouchers also notably altered Ms Southard's facial structure, to make her looking rather a different ethnic, (so I wonder if they were under particular instructions, such as what is pretty in their culture specifically).
For me, the only one that really did the justice is the Australia one. The retoucher's only big change is the composition of the image, where the retoucher decided to give it a new crop. Besides that, the retoucher didn't make any drastic change, because indeed Ms Southard is already very pretty. She got good skin, nice shape of lips, eyes and nose. Her face is very symmetrical, no wonky bits or awkward features at all. So there's no need to change any of that.
Although I'm a bit surprised how many did not go out to fix the wrinkly background, which makes me question if these retouchers are professional at all. Frankly, I am not all convinced they are "Photoshop Experts" as the title suggested! But hey! What's the fun if they are all highly regarded professionals, and did make Ms Southard very beautiful but not altered her shape or facial structures at all!?!
Now let's go back to the original picture of Ms Southard. In all fairness, it's more like a test for the retouchers' overall ability, and in taste too. Since we cannot see most of her body, so we cannot ridicule how plus-side woman are being photoshopped to comform the world's standard of beauty. And i think, clearly it's not the focus of the experiment. (Even though we were pushed into that direction with the said title: "How 21 Photoshop Experts "Fixed" a Plus-Size Woman". )
Back to the retouching business, it is a skilled professional job. And for those who does it as a professional for a living, there are levels of experiences. Some are naturally better because they are more experienced. The urging questions that many people have as to why people (mostly celebrities to be honest) being photoshopped so much!?
I think the answer is pretty simple, the retoucher were being paid and directed as to how the images should come out as a result. If you compare how many celebrities being over-airbrush (on their face and body), and how many fashion models' faces or body being photoshopped. The result has significantly shown the celebrities has a much higher tendency being crazily photoshopped.
And here's some well known examples:
I think it's not fair that retouchers are always being blamed for the over-the-top retouching, when the truth is the retouchers are just one of the people on a payroll, being paid and being told what to do.
So if people has to blame the unrealistic photoshop images, "making women feels bad about themselves"; the right people to blame are the involved celebrities, the magazine's chef editor, the fashion designer (or artistic director) or the photographer who directed the retoucher. These are the people who directed the retouchers, as they care about how their images (or work) being seen, and how they could not be "faulted". Oftenly with that kind of issue, the realistic bits can becoming vanished.
So I hope no one is too serious about the over retouching issue again. If you are the one who pay the retoucher, you have the right to tell them what you want to see, even if you wanted six legs and four hands! That's where the retouchers coming in for, to make the impossible happen!
Lastly, although I'm not a professional retoucher, I had a little play and spent 10 minutes on MS Southard image. Since I don't have her hi-res image, I didn't go on very detailed retouching.
Same as the Australian retoucher, I agreed the image needed a new crop, and just to minor adjust lighting, and the only drastic thing I had to do, was her unruling out-of-bed hair. In addition, giving her a bit healthy colour on cheeks and lips, and as you would do with your make up, covering up a bit the black bags under the eyes.
Here's my take on the image:
If you are interested to see what would you do to the image, you can get the image from the original article of Ms Southard.