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, REtouchy Subject

Opinion Kirsty Withams

REtouchy Subject!

REtouchy subject, its all light and shadows!

It’s incredible how retouching causes such a debate nowadays, people referred back to the good old days of print photography before Photoshop as if if exactly what came out of the camera would go into a magazine. This is simply not true, retouching used to be done by hand on each of these photographs and retouching has been around for a long long time. So whether hand-painting photographs or digitally retouching with Photoshop, retouching has its place in photography for various reasons.

For me it’s simple when we take a photo we also shine light onto our subjects, this inevitably means we are also creating shadow. These shadows wouldn’t normally be there or if they were there they wouldn’t be very apparent, but when shining a bright light on a face, things like wrinkles suddenly become much more apparent as does every little blemish because they now have a shadow. If you were standing talking to somebody you wouldn’t notice that blemish or that wrinkle, it wouldn’t stand out it’s only the light that’s creating this shadow.

Similarly when we look at somebody that standing in front of us we have a 3D view of them we can see how rounded their shape is, we see the dimensions of them. In a 2d picture you can’t see that, the body is flattened, so when someone wears a flowy dress the camera will compress the body to make it appear that the body goes to the limit of that dress or material. This is one of the reasons I ask clients to wear form fitting clothing. For ladies who have a small waist and hips but a larger bum compression in a camera can also skew it too. But good posing and a little help in photoshop can rectify all of these problems and should definitely not be frowned upon.

I always think of using photoshop as a tool to make the subject look like the person that stood in front of me. I believe in keeping the features that I noticed and reducing those that I didn’t. If somebody is noticibly, heavily lined in real life, that’s a part of them, I’d soften them but i’d be unlikely to remove the lines unless requested, because it’s clearly a part of them. If they had barely noticeable lines face to face but the strobes or lights suddenly lines became noticeable I would most definitely reduce these, the same for any blemishes or or strange shadows that appear because of the light. Other things like flaky makeup, rogue hairs, clothing bumps and mishaps are all a given.

Digital art created by photo manipulation is another thing entirely and certainly has a place in the art world and there are some incredible examples around.

As with everything sometimes there are extremes where the subject looks 40 years younger or doesn’t look recognisable at all and hey if thats what the client has requested then who am I to argue! In my experience generally people want to see themselves, themselves in the best possible light, in an outfit that fits perfectly, after 12 hours sleep, no stress in their lives and a professional makeup artist on hand, but still themselves and photoshop allows us to do that.

What are your opinions on photoshop, is it the magic behind the curtain that you want to know nothing about? Is it something you have strong opinions on? Do you think its a tool that when used well is great, but when poorly used is awful?