Photoshop & Photography – by Maria Fonseca, Guest Blogger

PHOTOSHOP and PHOTOGRAPHY

What is a photograph? What is no longer photography?

Maria Fonseca, Photographer

Photoshop, the graphics editing program that allows for digital manipulation of a photo, has become so commonplace that the first question we might ask when viewing a photo is:  Has it been photoshopped?

 

Recently numerous images have been posted on the web of high fashion models before they had been photoshopped.  They were pretty girls in all their curves before technology took over and manipulated them into unnatural barbie dolls, the image of perfection rarely attainable in real life.

 

I have since viewed numerous before and after shots of people and places where imagery has been manipulated.  Sometimes the manipulation is subtle and in good taste.  Other times it is mean and totally distorts what is beautiful in its natural state.

 

With easy access to a variety of editing tools, images can be made to look the way we want them to look rather than how they actually look.  How much photoshopping is too much?

 

The greatest threat to the healthy female body may be the computer program. Photoshop can manipulate female beauty by reinforcing the aesthetic of skinny and skinnier. It can shrink the size of cheeks, hips, and upper arms. It can enlarge or reduce breast size. Wrinkles can be easily removed as can bags beneath the eyes.  Inches can be “liquified” above and below the midriff. Photoshop is frequently associated with exaggeration and reinforcement of unhealthy standards of beauty. Women are comparing themselves to an ideal fabricated by brushstrokes.

 

But what about news stories?

 

Photographs preserve information and speak in ways that words can not.  But news photographs can also lie and misrepresent.  Perhaps we have ascribed photos a power and finality they don’t deserve since they can be easily manipulated by professional and non-professional alike.  Photographers are aware that they often get only one shot so they are pushed to capture more perhaps than was actually there.

 

A distinction can be made between images we expect to be photoshopped – i.e., fashion, celebrity, etc. –  and those we don’t – i.e., news. But might there come a time where we can not trust any photos anymore?

 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a very old lady in a nursing home.  How she viewed herself  informed my photography from this point forward.  I captured images of her as she began to dance with a joyful twinkle in her eyes.  When I got home and viewed the images on the large screen, I immediately began to think through which Photoshop tools I would use to soften her wrinkles, remove the pink coloration around her eyes, even out her teeth, etc. After I had significantly softened her very deep wrinkles, she became no longer recognizable as the delightful person who had charmed me with her spirit and zest for life. She was no longer the woman whom I had immediately gravitated to and who had so completely captivated me.  I had gravitated to an old lady whose red rimmed eyes sparkled and whose very deep wrinkles told the story of her life.  I had gravitated to a very old lady who effortlessly danced as we talked about her impending reluctant return home to an empty house.

 

In my photography, I strive to capture what I see, and that is the true essence of a person.  Slight softening is OK but major softening and sharpening creates a caricature that will never be my intent. I have recently discovered that even in images I have captured of myself, I had been heavy-handed with the brush strokes until I had created a caricature of myself.

 

Maria Fonseca

Maria Fonseca Photograph                mfon52@aol.com                    781-354-6096

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Fonseca-Photography/146290242155753

 

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