I use PicMonkey to add overlays and text to photos. While I’ll sometimes also use PicMonkey to lighten or crop a picture, that’s pretty much all I ever do with it.
Then, just last week, I figured I should really check out what some of the other icons and settings can do in the PicMonkey program. As I explored, I started playing around with some of the other features, like the blemish fix and weight loss tools. And what a fascinating adventure that was!
“Touch up” tools like airbrushing and Photoshop can be extremely frustrating when we look at photographs of models and are bombarded with advertisements every day. But it’s one thing to know that it happens, and it’s another thing to play with the tools and make it happen yourself.
And I have to admit… it was rather fun to see how much I could alter a picture just enough to still look like me, without actually being the real me.
I started to wonder, as I was playing around with the tools, watching in amazement at the small “fixes” that I could make, about the point at which we go too far with altering photographs.
It’s one thing to use a filter in an Instagram photo, and it’s another thing to alter facial structure and shave off sections of arms and legs to make them look thinner in a magazine spread. Right? But… where exactly is that blurry line? At what point does it stop being a point of making a photograph look more artistic, cleaner, sharper, and instead become making the subject of the photograph look different than reality?
The line isn’t a clear one, but it’s a question we must ask since marketing plays such an incredible role in our day-to-day lives and our perceptions on the world and of reality.
Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant suggest in their 2010 book, The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, that the average person is exposed to about 600 ads per day.
That’s a whole lot of advertisements… and if the images that we are seeing are airbrushed and altered to the point of distorting reality, such as lengthening necks in the video below, what kind of impact is that going to have on our perception and understanding of the world?
As fun and fascinating as it is to play around with touch-up tools in PicMonkey, I won’t be using them in my photos. The most you’ll see here at SaganMorrow.com are photographs taken with a high-quality camera, using interesting filters and exposure to change the lighting and contrast. Let’s keep it realistic.
How do you feel about the culture of airbrushing? Have you played with these tools before (and did you find it as fascinating—and fun!—as I did)? Where do you think the line is between making a photograph look interesting and distorting reality through it? Share in the comments section below!
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