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  • Ethics of Retouching

    I've been retouching photos for my family and friends for a while, and have recently gotten into doing it professionally. I hadn't really thought about the fact that some people could be offended by what I do.

    However, a few nights ago, I had a friend over and was showing her what I do. She got extremely offended and said that I was adding to the social stereotype of false beauty and that I was helping to create unrealistic standards for women.

    So, what do you think? Does fashion retouching add to the false stereotype that true beauty is perfection? Are we helping to create unrealistic standards for young women by making models in the magazines they read unattainably perfect?

    Let me know what you all think.

    (If this is in the wrong forum, feel free to move it. I wasn't sure)

  • #2
    Re: Ethics of Retouching

    Retouching has been going on since the days Playboy first came out. Now with Digital more people have access to photoshop and digital images. So it is more common. To me ..I have no problems with it. Keep the customer happy or your famil member.

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    • #3
      Re: Ethics of Retouching

      when you think about it woman do the same thing everyday when they put makeup on.

      hiding the imperfections on the skin.
      so for me retouching is just digital makeup
      Last edited by dataflow; 02-07-2008, 04:09 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Ethics of Retouching

        i've been accused several times in social settings ("hey, so what do you do for a living?") of contributing to the eating disorders in pre-teen girls and masturbatory habits of boys

        but then, once people get to know me, and maybe i show them some before and afters, the general response is "you know, it's good to know people REALLY don't look like that" and they say they feel better about themselves. the times i've gotten the indignant soap-boxy type lecture on morality in the media, i usually write those people off as self-righteous activists, and maybe i should find someone else to stand next to at the bar

        obviously if i want to keep working i can't show everyone, but i DO tell everyone who asks the general tells, footprints, of how to know when something's been retouched i.e. "look at their armpits, no one has perfect armpits, where did all the folds go? that's a weird lookin inordinately smooth neck, have you ever seen a neck without folds before?"

        on a similar note, i've recently been informed that it's illegal for models to wear fake eyelashes on set when modeling for eyelash product, as there was some sort of court ruling that this was false advertising. which strikes me as hilarious, cause all we do on those things is remove their ugly, clumped up eyelashes and draw in perfectly fake ones anyway

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        • #5
          Re: Ethics of Retouching

          My personal philosophy is that someone should look no better or no worse than if it photo were taken under ideal circumstances and that the model was in perfect health and condition for their age.

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          • #6
            Re: Ethics of Retouching

            Retouching a photo to show something in the best light, is no different that moving the camera to a better angle to show something in the best light, hide an un-wanted object, or whatever. It is also no different than telling a story, providing only the details that make the story most favorable to the point that you are attempting to make. It's all in the point of view, or perspective.

            On another point of view, It really doesn't matter what you attempt to do, there is going to be someone, who doesn't like it. So the real question is, How does what you are doing lie with your own personal since of ethics?

            Dave.

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            • #7
              Re: Ethics of Retouching

              In the same vein as Dave just mentioned I have to tell you that I was at one time involved in local politics and one thing became clear.. 25% of the people strongly supported me, 25% strongly opposed me and 50% of the people could care less. Do what you want to and try not to get sued...
              Tom

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              • #8
                Re: Ethics of Retouching

                I agree with that girl. Being a female photographer I feel the same way about retouching. For this reason I prefer the photographs I take not to be retouched (or very minimal) in order to see a real beauty and not a fake one. I also think that real beauty hides in our imperfections, something that makes people look unique.

                I found this article interesting and to the point
                http://hubpages.com/hub/Retouched

                "The danger is clear: these are the role models we have set up to emulate. This is what we agree that beauty should look like. The problem is, that standard is unattainable, even for those held up as examples"
                Last edited by gi1976; 02-07-2008, 05:15 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: Ethics of Retouching

                  hi,
                  These are my thoughts...
                  1. you don't set the standards!! your friends, relatives, business clients they set the standards! All your doing is doing a job that reflects what they want!

                  2. what can be done in photoshop is no different that what done in a photo studio.... make up is applied, special lighting and lens to get the desired results... I remember looking at my old HS yearbook and a lot of my girlfriends did not look like thier pictures.. smiling..

                  3. and what the public want, changes over time... if you look at what the standards were 100 years ago, 50 years ago and now you will see a significant change and currently there is a change going on now.... 5 years a ago model needed to be ultra thin and tall,,,, well that changing in fact in many countries the trend is that they need to be more full body !!

                  4. if your friend really want to change things... then she should tell your friends and teenage daughter not to buy the glamour/fashion magazines and let the magazine know!! you effect the $$$$ bottom line that gets a change...

                  those are my thoughts

                  Originally posted by jam1212 View Post
                  I've been retouching photos for my family and friends for a while, and have recently gotten into doing it professionally. I hadn't really thought about the fact that some people could be offended by what I do.

                  However, a few nights ago, I had a friend over and was showing her what I do. She got extremely offended and said that I was adding to the social stereotype of false beauty and that I was helping to create unrealistic standards for women.

                  So, what do you think? Does fashion retouching add to the false stereotype that true beauty is perfection? Are we helping to create unrealistic standards for young women by making models in the magazines they read unattainably perfect?

                  Let me know what you all think.

                  (If this is in the wrong forum, feel free to move it. I wasn't sure)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Ethics of Retouching

                    I appreciate all of your opinions. I guess I should say that I don't feel that there's anything wrong with retouching. I feel that I am supplying a product to a consumer and nothing more. Photography is a way of capturing whichever reality you want to capture. Retouching is simply taking that another step.

                    Anyways, keep the opinions coming!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Ethics of Retouching

                      Originally posted by jam1212 View Post
                      I appreciate all of your opinions. I guess I should say that I don't feel that there's anything wrong with retouching. I feel that I am supplying a product to a consumer and nothing more. Photography is a way of capturing whichever reality you want to capture. Retouching is simply taking that another step.

                      Anyways, keep the opinions coming!
                      If politically correct dogma is something you feel compelled to worry about, don't do fashion/beauty retouching. Work on dogs. Or landscapes. Cars are safe, and no less complicated (oops, except for those pesky carbon footprints).

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                      • #12
                        Re: Ethics of Retouching

                        Just to clarify again, I don't feel that retouching is unethical. I just thought this topic would spark some interesting discussion. Thanks again for everyone's opinions. Keep 'em coming!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Ethics of Retouching

                          Take a look at that famous painting my Leonardo Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa, and tell me that women was painted exactly as she looked: tell me that Da Vinci didn't 'enhance' her appearance. We as people of the human race want to look our best, whether it be for a night out on the town, or whether it be in a photograph with our friends, our physical appearance is important to us, and why shouldn't it be, after all, that is what makes us unique. Retouching a photograph is kind of like renovating your kitchen: you do it so that it looks visually appealing, and so that it serves the purpose that it is desired to serve.

                          Do I think that retouched photographs can lead to social issues in young girls and boys? Absolutely. There tends to be a lack of understanding that these pictures of women and men in magazines are no longer 'real' because of the amount of retouching that goes into the pictures. Each and every person is beautiful in their own unique way, and I think we as retouching artists need to be willing to promote this fact. If parents were to help their children understand this, then maybe there would be less problems blamed on this art. I don't blame anyone in specific, I blame a lack of understand.
                          Last edited by Nikolas; 02-09-2008, 02:34 AM. Reason: Spelling correction

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                          • #14
                            Re: Ethics of Retouching

                            It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, boy or girl, what you do, or what your status in life is. You are always going to be compared to someone else, and that so called standard is often going to be unobtainable. That means you have to decide where you are comfortable, what what standards can you set for yourself. Is it something that you can improve? If so, and it's important to you, then you should strive to do so. If not, or it isn't important to you, then don't worry about it.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Ethics of Retouching

                              If images are sent to you for retouching then the client wants them retouching... If you don't do it, someone else will...

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