A few weeks back I came across an online debate over the Lady Gaga and Versace pictures leaked from behind the scenes – or so it said. As you can see [pictured], she looks different compared to the finished image. This reminded me of the last post I wrote on the same subject about the Vogue cover, once again featuring Lady Gaga. People were horrified because of how much they had edited her…. Even I thought it was a little extreme.
However, one thing is for certain, editing does happen and it most probably always will. It’s been happening for years and is the norm in this sort of industry. It is a sad fact that we need to airbrush people into looking ‘perfect’, and hiding the things that make these humans unique in the first place. As a photographer myself though, cleaning up an image is just a part of your job, and if you didn’t, the model would feel pretty pissed off about it. I’ve heard this plenty of times: “You will edit that out won’t you?”
The creative team always has a vision of what the end product will look like, and this can involve editing the subject so much they become more like artwork rather than a photo. A lot of high-end campaigns are done this way, or glossy glamour photos – it’s almost as if they’re creating their own fantasy, their own world. They have to edit the subject to fit them into what they’re after, no matter who that person might be. They also want the photos to come across as sexy, flawless and almost as if the model sat there is untouchable – you can’t and will never be like her/him! The reality of it is though, we all know they’re extremely post-edited.
A lot of people feel that extreme post-editing gives a bad example to the youth of today, which yes, I do agree with. However, as I’ve grown up and ventured into this sort of industry myself, I’ve learnt to take things with a pinch of salt. Nothing is real, basically. You know for a fact that images are edited to be more saleable. I don’t think it’s right (hence we don’t necessarily change body shape, etc), but unfortunately, that’s the way it looks like it’s staying.
Sometimes I compare photo editing to wearing make-up: A little is fine, but once that person stops looking like who they are that even they don’t recognise themselves (Kim Kardashian even said that about herself, oo-er!) – then that’s when you should draw the line!