Pho Sho is my friend

PhoSho is a friend of mine.

“PhoSho?” Oh, him … he’s my homie. His full name is PhotoShop. Lately some so-called ‘realists’ seem to have a problem with it – almost relegating him to undeserved category of ‘sexist male pig’ for the crime of making women look more beautiful in pictures. Let me set the record straight.

Long, long ago … before PhotoShop, before computers, before the word “software,” pictures, paintings and sculptures were created by artists putting their models in the artist’s most ideal light, angle, clothing and everything else. Think for a second – how many sculptures or paintings have you seen of people with blotchy skin or a face full of pimples, warts, scars and the like? I’m hard pressed to think of any, other than to deliberately make a villain or ogre look uglier than they already are. Surely some of Rembrant’s models had a pimple or two – a scar – a wart. Where are they in his paintings? Undoubtedly, there must have been some cottage cheese on some of those hips and thighs. Screw ‘natural’ – Rembrant wasn’t having any of it. His brush took care of them. CASE CLOSED.

A few minutes after photography was invented, retouching and light manipulation was born. Again, the aim was to present the subject in the most ideal light with the most ideal skin. Hence, nearly all your great grandma’s pictures were retouched and, at the very least, spotted. Anyone who called themselves a professional photographer back then spent a whole lot of time retouching the the portraits they created.  My point here is that PhoSho is no more guilty of falsification than every artist’s rendering of human subjects from the beginning of history.

The topic comes to mind even as I am actively engaged in a learning glut of PhoSho and then coming across an article a few weeks back about a photographer who claims to capture the purely “natural” beauty of women (which ‘naturally’ meant sans PhotoShop). Never mind that there were numerous indications that PhotoShop was shamelessly employed, in spite of the claims to the contrary. Even if this were not the case, obviously, lighting and posing techniques were styled for maximum beautification and by that, I mean generally-accepted, time-honored beautification principles. While it is virtually impossible to produce a perfectly natural photographic depiction of anyone if, for no other reason, the fact that the naked eye sees a much wider range of light, color & dimension than a camera can capture, the closest thing to “purely-natural” would be to whip out the cell and start clicking in whatever uglifying light that just happened to fall on the subject in that instant. (click “delete” and “yes, dammit – I’m sure I want to delete it”). The only problem with being that organic is that people will not hire you to make them look uglier.

Beautifying manipulations are done even before the first click of the camera. Choice of angle, choice of lens, choice of clothing, deletion skills are all factors which MANIPULATES the final results. All these factors contribute to either maximizing their beauty – natural or otherwise – or bringing them down, such that they hate looking at the picture of themselves.  The mark of a good photographer is knowing how to render a subject thinner, taller, smoother, prettier, blemishless and many other nice things all before ever pressing the shutter. Hence, I see many of these I-don’t-use-photoshop articles as publicity gimmicks aimed at landing more and wealthier clients. (… and I ain’t mad at them for that.) At the end of the day, there simply is no such animal as a truly ‘natural’ photograph. Period.

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