On "retouching" photos

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ShawnMiller
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On "retouching" photos

Postby ShawnMiller » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:47 am

A New Yorker article entitled Pixel Perfect about Pascal Dangin, fashion world photo "retoucher." Select quotes:

In the March [2008] issue of Vogue [Pascal] Dangin tweaked a hundred and forty-four images: a hundred and seven advertisements (Estée Lauder, Gucci, Dior, etc.), thirty-six fashion pictures, and the cover, featuring Drew Barrymore.


Retouchers, subjected to endless epistemological debates—are they simple conduits for social expectations of beauty, or shapers of such?—often resort to a don’t-shoot-the-messenger defense of their craft, familiar to repo guys and bail bondsmen. When I asked Dangin if the steroidal advantage that retouching gives to celebrities was unfair to ordinary people, he admitted that he was complicit in perpetuating unrealistic images of the human body, but said, “I’m just giving the supply to the demand.” (Fashion advertisements are not public-service announcements.)


“I like her in this one, because she looks very natural,” Dangin said.


But playing with the representational possibilities of photographs, and the bodies contained therein, has always aroused the suspicion of viewers with a perpetual, if naïve, desire for objective renderings of the world around them. As much as it is a truism that photography is subjective, it is also a truism that many of its beholders—even those who happily eliminate red-eye from their wedding albums—will take umbrage when confronted with evidence of its subjectivity.


Kate Winslet protested that the digital slimming of her figure on the cover of British GQ was “excessive,” while Andy Roddick griped that Men’s Fitness exaggerated his biceps, saying, “Little did I know I have twenty-two-inch guns and a disappearing birthmark on my right arm.”


I can change someone’s character just by doing work on the eyes.

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