Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the photography I have seen and more importantly the finishing.
As a photographer I have always tried to keep my portraits and people shots as natural as possible, this means pores, blotchy cheeks and all. I will remove sores, acne, birthmarks and moles if my subject wants me too. But the style of editing I’m seeing in a lot of photography now leaves faces looking flat and chalky. To me there is a real dignity in how people look that a photographer needs to capture. It’s the really great photographers who are able to capture the truth of a person. The portraits that truly WOW us are the amazing essays on character and experience written in pixels by artists, who like the great interviewers of history have disarmed their subjects and found something amazing.
We look at these images and say WOW, but it seems it’s only beautiful when its somebody else. For ourselves we’d rather err on the side of perfection. We want to see ourselves as cover models. We see our own flaws every day in the mirror, we don’t need them in our photo’s.
You see it all the time now in Mens fashion. Hot guys in underwear with chalky flat features, no pores or skin texture. It’s bad photography passing as good photography on the muscular backs, washboard abs and stuffed packages that marketers use to distract us.
Even baby photo’s glamorize young children cleaning away runny noses, dry skin, spotty foreheads and alike. What does it say about us that before our children can even speak we are photoshopping away their flaws?
That is not to say that the images are not beautiful. Some of them are simply stunning. The photographers have still captured some amazing expressions. So why the difference. The answer is simple, it’s not good business to sell pictures of snotty, blotchy, teary children. Every parent wants their child immortalized as perfection.
They forget that their children are perfect just the way they are, because they no longer believe that they themselves are perfect, just the way they are.
I understand the commercial reality behind the business of perfection but I can’t help but dwell on the attitudes to beauty and perfection that are being pushed on our kids even before some of them can walk.
When is perfection not perfection?