Delivery by Dec 24 has ended: Get 10% off instantly emailed gift certificates with code NOT2LATE

The Ethics of Photoshop.

Thoughts of the day.

Before using PS, there are some things to consider. Your aim. Since I’ve been using it since I was 10, there wasn’t much of that! (consideration). Of course, during teenage years, and beyond, a lot of my life became about vanity and image.

Scanning and digital photo’s didn’t happen til recently, so I guess I spared myself a lot of time behind a computer, and more in the darkroom, learning the ‘real’ technique of printing and processing film.

Meanwhile, I also became a skilled drawer (or draughts person?!), painter and make up artist. So, as I became more fluent, PS for portraits became more about incorporating those skills.

Luckily, during that time then was running to and fro, not sitting behind a computer, or editing out rolls of inactivity (I say now, sitting in my PJ’s behind the computer). So yes, PS can be great for shaving off kilos-but not the most ideal method in life in general.

There is a whole debate about this; see Today tonight, concerned parents and ‘psychologists’ giving their opinion. Knowing that this image based society has affected someone we know (I speak to my mum here) and probably someone we all know, given 1 in 5 women/girls have some weird food relationship, it is something to be sensitive about. (I say after calling their relationship to food weird-very sensitive!) You know what I mean.

So, knowing our culture is becoming very materialistic, including over ourselves, we could say we are a possession to be polished. Can we accept a photo of ourselves, or others that embraces our flaws? Photoshop is a very tempting and easy way to quickly brush out those little flaws. What happens in real life? Who wants to waste a precious minute of life worrying about a wrinkle? Getting another one thinking about it?

Therefore, I deftly brush aside all worried and fears about PS. For now. Its just a little cover up, a little enhancer we use for special occasions, like when we decide THIS photo is going to be enlarged for grandma. Who doesn’t care anyway, and loves us no matter what. SO WHY? Again, why?

This draws me back to photographing children, who love themselves no matter what. Who we love no matter what. Who we love with dribble on their chins. With cuts and bruises. With tears.

Our bodies give us clues about our environment, our lifestyles and our health. Dark circles under eyes mean need of more sleep, more water (8-10 glasses everyone!) and less over loading the kidneys with sugar etc. Pimples just mean our skin is getting dirt trapped in it-pollution, touching it, hormones. Rolls of extra weight-tv, inactivity, insulation. Babies have it, but we usually know its diet related.

Our bodies remind us we’re human. We’re experiencing time. They remind us of the choices we’ve made. Sometimes, seeing evidence reminds us of our choices, and that’s not always fun. PS can help take the stress of guilt and remember and aspire to the best we can be.

So lets be nice to ourselves, and use PS to that effect, knowing the message is there, and the changes we make remind us of the best we are.

Currently unavailable for purchase

The Ethics of Photoshop. by 


  • Danny
    Dannyover 7 years ago

    Great essay sunset, not a thousand miles removed from Webgrrls journal yesterday.
    Sometimes we just have to look back and review. Was it better before technology,?
    Were our parents maybe no so wrong after all?

  • sunset
    sunsetover 7 years ago

    thanks Danny-yes, Webgrrl and I are on a similar wavelength-I love her stuff.

    I like to think we’re getting better all the time. Always more, always better!

  • Deon de Waal
    Deon de Waalover 7 years ago

    Hi Sunset

    This is a good essay and now I know why I have dark rings under my eyes! :)

    I know this is off the point of your essay but I was wondering if you could help me. I’m very new to all this and especially to photoshop. I have found it a very difficult program to figure out.

    The problem I am faced with is this: On my portfolio you will see a picture of a lion and a picture of a fire. I would like to combine them so that it looks as if the lion is looking out of the fire. I have got so far as to crop the lions head and mane and put it as a layer onto the fire. I would now like to have a gradual fade so that the lions actual face is clear but the opacity increases as one reaches the edges of the mane so that it looks as if the fire and lion blend into each other. my attempts so far have not resulted in a great effect.

    PLEASE can you help me.

  • sunset
    sunsetover 7 years ago

    hi deon. thanks for the feedback.

    you have discovered layers-the first step. A simple way to get a gradual fade is to use the rubber- with opacity low, or rubber stamp, to clone parts o the images. there are also forums on technical matters. I will add tips there, and further journal entries.


  • Jack McCabe
    Jack McCabeover 6 years ago

    I don’t have an issue with PS usage.
    However, some images that are excessively manipulated are distractingly enhanced and seem cheapened in the process… just an opinion.
    I really love your painting works.
    I wish I could swing back into it again.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10%off for joining

the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.