Having studied photography for two years in college as a major, I spent a lot of time time digitally retouching and manipulating my images with photoshop. If I was going to go out into the real world and get paid to take photos, I was going to have to learn the art of retouching. We were taught that this was the norm, and it is. I became pretty good at it. I graduated. So here I am 7 years later.
I ditched the photoshop. This was my professional choice, and I believe for my work to progress it has been the best decision. It has forced me to take a photograph that speaks for itself. It tells an honest story. I use lighting occasionally, tweak contrast, and colour correct. If someone has a major blemish, of course that’s corrected. That’s it.
I want to capture an image that shows the viewer what life looks like without all the smoke and mirrors.
I am aware through advertising you must show the most undeniably appealing image of a product to generate sales. It’s understandable, but often these days it’s a flat out lie.
When a company takes the time and money to show you a manufactured, flawless version of their product, it’s no wonder we’re often disappointed when we finally reveal the contents of our purchase.
When’s the last time you ate at McDonalds (or any major food chain) and thought: “Yes…this <insert burger name here> looks exactly like the photo shown in Combo #5!”. It’s always a colourless, limp, mess whenever I open the box to one.
The best example came from my studies. A talented food stylist came to our studio to talk about food photography. I was intrigued, but also shocked to find that many items in cookbooks and well known brands advertisements were entirely fabricated out of anything but the food that was being showcased. Drumstick Ice Cream adverts were made of lard. Perfectly cooked turkey was merely raw with brown paint. Gross right? Here are more examples of the tricks of the food styling trade. It’s no wonder your home cooked turkey looked like a hot mess…you were up against a fraud!
The fashion industry has taken small steps toward putting out more “healthy” models in their editorials, which honestly if it ever rolls out, will do the female population a world of good. Let’s just hope the photoshopping is also toned down.
Last year while working with a modelling agency I sent the models test photos un-retouched. Surprisingly, they were well recieved. I felt it was important to keep my values, even if it meant rejection.
Pornography, (like the fashion industry) has also created a glossy, airbrushed version of what the male and female body and sexuality ought to look like.
In response to the hyper fake porn and fashion industries, in 2009 I started a series called “Bare“. It showcases natural nude men and women and is an ongoing project.
Of course companies want to tempt you with their juicy products, they want you to lust after celebrities, models, clothes and objects.
So I’m asking…Why aren’t these things real?
Honesty for me is important, it’s absolute.