John Marion is an award-winning photographer from Richmond, MI, and he knows first-hand just how much photo editing and retouching gets done to virtually every picture in existence these days. In the increasingly digital world we live in, the ways to go about these tasks successfully have only gotten better and more efficient.
According to Port Huron’s Time’s Herald, Marion has primarily used the popular digital editing tool Photoshop for over 20 years to help him with his work. He also understands the difference between good editing and over-the-top manipulation.
“Good Photoshop is when you don’t completely get rid of the blemishes, but soften it,” Marion said.
Photo editing has certainly become much easier in recent years with the advent of things like Photoshop and even newer apps that can be used on mobile devices, but it’s not a new concept. In fact, it’s been around since the beginning of photographs altogether.
In the early days of film, photographers would actually send their pictures to artists, who would then color in blotches with lead pencils. Hence, the beginning of the filter and early photo culling services came to be.
Since those early days, programs like Photoshop have made the process exponentially easier — almost too easy and effective in some cases.
So much so that the U.S. government actually tried to enact a law in 2014 called the “Truth in Advertising” Act, according to The Washington Post. It hasn’t gotten passed, but it would require the Federal Trade Commission to write a report on advertisers that use overzealous Photoshop. The law would not pertain to “artistic” images, like magazine covers and private studio work.
It’s a tough line to toe. On the one hand, people want high-quality images of themselves and the things they look at.
On the other, though, many people are becoming increasingly appalled by the extensive editing done in some industries, such as modeling. With these kinds of tools now readily available to virtually any kid with access to a cell phone or computer, it’s easy to see why many try to live up to these sometimes unrealistic standards.
“People invest a lot of time and energy ensuring that they always look their best. We spend money on nice clothes, we go to the gym, we go to the salon, and we obsess over what we eat. Photo retouching is just another tool that can help us look our best. As with all great things in life, moderation is key,” said David Sinai, president and co-founder of restoration company Picsera.
The increase in social media platforms and sharing capabilities suggests these debates will only continue to wage on. Just know that what you see when looking at a picture is rarely the whole story in today’s world.