Pics or it didn’t happen. Right?
Well, that isn’t always true. Having a picture of something doesn’t make it real. Photoshop has opened a world of incredible possibilities. On the other hand, image manipulation has opened quite the rabbit hole of deceit.
Programs like Photoshop offer tons of editing options.
Editing With Imagination:
Image manipulation is a great way to put your imagination to use. You can place yourself on the moon, in a scene from Harry Potter, or on a tropical island vacation. With a few layers and the use of an image eraser, I can morph any picture to fit my imagination.
Photoshop can be fun.
On an unrelated note, here’s my favorite picture from my wedding.
Editing for Satire:
The world is a funny place. Jokes are often made, regardless of the cost. Sometimes they’re funny. Other times, they’re just disappointing. Add the availability to manipulate any image and we sometimes find ourselves on a slippery slope.
Editing to Portray Unrealistic Expectations:
Magazines have a long-standing reputation for the way they highlight the persons they choose to represent their issues. Side-by-side images have shed light on the body shaming created by the entertainment world.
The backlash from over-edited images has placed many publications on blast. Remember the time Disney darling, Zendaya, called out the magazine she posed for? Don’t worry… the Internet didn’t.
Editing as a Form of Deception:
The use of Photoshop to create fake images of celebrities in risque situations has had quite the impact on Internet searches. Social media sites are often booming with fake images of popular faces, used to create gossip in the entertainment industry.
“Defamation of character” has been claimed by many celebrities. The Photoshopped images have created a new way for those with public influence to be poorly represented.
Playing with shadows in an image can make the most attractive person look like an extra from The Walking Dead. Such a low-quality image can be used to parallel some serious accusations.
If you ever have an issue, just have your people call Jake Gyllenhaal’s people. They can handle it.
Let’s Talk Ethics:
When editing for satire or to express yourself, there is very little ethical concern- as long as you’re not doing so in a negative, derogatory way. The concern comes in play when the body shaming and lying techniques are being used.
You have to consider the difference between image manipulation for personal entertainment and manipulation for exploitation. There are some things which shouldn’t be publicized. Knowing the limits is important.
Anything that has the possibility of harming another person, or shines a false light on someone, should not be considered an ethically appropriate image. This shouldn’t just extend to the obviously over-edited pictures. Those editing an image could consider the impact it will have on the person captured.
As a photographer, I never manipulate a person’s physical characteristics unless asked to do so. I don’t want to capture pictures of someone, only to change them into someone else. This type of editing can destroy a person’s self-esteem.
Editing the lighting and colors is one thing. Airbrushing a thigh-gap into an area which was previously filled… that’s a different story.
I remember my younger sister (who has a cleft lip and pallet) once received school picture proofs. The photographer had airbrushed her scars, to give the appearance of smoother skin. This photographer felt that he was helping a kid look their best in a picture. This photographer was actually telling a teenage girl that her face needed to change.
Over-editing images has had such a negative impact on self-image. No person should ever receive a picture of who they could be.
We should always be aware of the purpose and impact of our Photoshop projects.