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.

The Ethics of Photoshop.


Sydney, Australia

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