The Power of Photoshop?

The Beauty Myth.

There is so much pressure on photographers to use Photoshop processing software.  Clients (usually women) say at their portrait sessions:

“Make sure you make me look slimmer”.

“Take my wrinkles away”.

I’ve even been asked to restyle someone’s hair!

I don’t use Photoshop a great deal in my portrait work.  My work with clients in my Positive Reflections workshops and sessions is about enabling them to appreciate themselves as they are – not as some idealised form.

During my work for my MA Arts Practice (Arts, Health and Wellbeing) at the University of South Wales, I have been researching the impact of society on how we feel about ourselves, and how this can affect our self esteem and confidence.  It can also lead to stereotyping and feeling of stigma.  We are so used to seeing photoshopped images of models and actors on the front covers of magazines.

As part of my major project, I will be exploring the masks that we wear through our lives, and how these are use to cope with felt stigma as a part of stereotypes.

I have used a self portrait that I took as part of my Positive Ageing project.  It was taken in natural light, and no Photoshop processing has been carried out.  I then looked at the current trend in contouring make-up, and applied it to “dodge and burn” photoshop technique on my portrait.


This is the original portrait taken for my Positive Ageing project.  Taken in natural light, with no Photoshop post-processing.


Typical contouring make-up.


Contouring make-up, applied to me – aren’t I glamorous?


Photoshop post-processing – I have used Frequency Separation and the healing tool to remove any blemishes and main wrinkles.   Levels layer used to whiten eyes.  Then I used dodge and burn, based on previous diagram to contour face and add highlights to hair.

The Power of Photoshop – Reflections

I look at my “before” photograph and I look older, fatter, more tired.  Who wouldn’t want to use Photoshop?  The processing took me about 15 minutes.  Not long to make someone happy.  Does it matter if it’s not really me?

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth.