“WHAT STARTS OUT AS A TOUCH UP AND ENDS UP A FALSE REALITY? AND WHERE SHOULD WE MORALLY STOP AND BEGIN DISCLOSURE?”
Another day, another blog post spurred on by the thoughts that stemmed from a momentary Tweet. I feel like ‘photoshopping’ dropped into conversation is bound to cause controversy and a mixed bag of reviews and opinions. Realistically, Photoshop is a smart tool professionals all over the world use for their work; to bring out tones, enhance colours, vibrancy, shadows and create beautiful images, amongst anything else. But with the days of apps, created solely for changing the whole appearance of your body, face and pores with the swipe of a finger now readily available, we’ve began to drop photoshopping into conversation as a bad thing and one we shouldn’t admit to using. This is a bit of a meaty read; Grab a cup of tea (or a gin.)
Now I love editing photos. Nothing excites me more than playing around with sharpness, brightness, contrast, shadows and colours to really make a shot pop and come alive from what you envisioned in your mind. But where do the lines blur between creativity and fake-ness? What starts out as a touch up and ends up a false reality? And where should we morally stop and begin disclosure? Here’s my current thoughts and rambles, and I invite you to add your thoughts to discussion in the comments; I think it’s such an interesting topic and one we all have a totally unique perspective on.
A NEVER ENDING ARGUMENT?
After discussing this with you guys over on Insta stories, I found myself constantly going back and forth with myself, hence why I don’t think it’s a subject you can really come to a complete conclusion on. Everyones images are so different; some curated with hours of thought and meticulous research into locations, and others more sporadic – but I believe these should be celebrated in their entireties. People love to call out bloggers for staged images, but it’s just a different type of image. You wouldn’t compare a selfie to a photoshoot on vogue. Some images are raw, real and made to be thought provoking and others, are beautifully created to inspire and give people a pleasurable aesthetic.
I used to do my fair share of editing – my crippling acne years ago saw me airbrush my face a bit and remove prominent spots. So does this make me a hypocrite? Everyone has their own insecurities and perhaps sometimes don’t want these to deter from an image – something I completely understand! This has also meant it’s such a funny topic to discuss – some people are dead set against airbrushing, and others not – but both are perspectives I can understand. I love to make my images pop, but similarly, I’m super lazy. I won’t shoot if a location needs things removing out of it left right and centre, but at the same time, if there’s a bird shit behind me, I may well clone that out – because, well, ain’t having nobody (or a poop 😉 ) rain on my parade. But at the same time, I have no issue with people wanting to airbrush or remove things. I both love to look at perfectly staged images, to inspire me to create a nice space around me and wear things that make me feel good, but I also love candid, real, snaps. I could argue both sides all day, but ultimately, if it’s not doing harm, then I don’t see a problem with editing images to a way you like. I think it’s a good mindset to have, to be happy for others doing their own thang, whilst focusing on yours; just because we all do things differently, doesn’t mean we’re wrong or right.
“CREATIVITY IS SUBJECTIVE, SO I DON’T SEE A PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE ALTERING THINGS, AS LONG AS YOU DON’T PRETEND IT’S REAL WHEN IT ISN’T – THIS IS WHERE THE DANGER OF UN REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS STEM FROM”
WHAT SPARKED THE CONVERSATION?
I’ve said it before and always will; I’m a live and let live gal ( as long as it doesn’t negatively impact others, of course.) Bloggers and influencers are particularly renowned for and have risen in popularity so much, hugely down to our ‘realness and ‘relatability’. But how we do things is so subjective in the influencer world; so what one could view upon as wrong, someone could see fit as completely fine. I think if you’re in a position of influence, you should disclose something that could appear missleading – but again, thats just me! A few examples I came across, that kind of didn’t sit right with me, were people super imposing themselves into locations and placing things that evidently weren’t there, without any disclosing; hence it perhaps becoming confusing to the audience. Creativity is also subjective, so I don’t see a problem with this to an extent, so long as you aren’t pretending it’s real – because this is where I think the danger of unrealistic expectations comes into it; obviously a huge problem in todays society.
The real moment that provoked me to open this discussion, was a recent sponsored campaign, whereby I came across an image, where someone had the product super imposed into their hand. For me, this completely defeated the object of the whole thing. (This is obviously just my opinion, would love to know your thoughts.) You’re endorsing a product you are claiming to have used, loved and are proud to spread word about, so the fact that the person getting paid to post didn’t even have the product to hand? Just seemed a bit, well, weird, but also prompts the argument that bloggers ‘aren’t honest.’ A completely different discussion on it’s own. These examples made me want to explore not only my own thoughts on this subject, but yours too, because again, we all have such different opinions and views.
On insta stories – I mentioned about respecting peoples content in it’s entirety. Celebrate stunningly composed images with incredible editing skills and similarly, also celebrate the more candid, raw snaps. They’re both unique and serve different purposes or are of others taste. We don’t all like the same film genres, the same outfits and food, yet it doesn’t mean others tastes are wrong. Don’t call out someone for being false, just because they’ve posed for an image; something we all do now and again. But also be respectful of not misleading others. Scarlett London (You can check out her blog here and her lust worthy, Instagram here!) is a great example of a blogger who has incredibly, beautiful, images with a lot of thought and creativity poured into them, but who also honestly discloses anything and is very upfront about her editing. It’s a great example I think we should all take note of – she’s honest, open, yet also doesn’t let it impact her creative eye. It’s this, that I think it’s the message I think that is most pivotal of all in this discussion.
Create beautiful things, create thought provoking, think pieces, create what you want, but perhaps just be mindful of who’s consuming your content, and be up front if anything could at all be seen as misleading. It’s a learning curve for us all, which sometimes we make mistakes with, in order to process and learn, but ultimately, honesty will garner you respect whilst also setting things straight. Would love to know your thoughts on this one – it was really difficult to articulate so I hope my rambles have made sense and you feel inclined to have your input! I think discussing it is the key to bringing light any issues and resolving them, as well as helping each other to learn!
SHOP THE OUTFIT
Would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one – such an interesting yet really difficult to discuss topic that I find a lot of people stray away from. Join the discussion below or my Insta DM’s are always open for a chat!
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Photography by Ben Kapur