Does Photoshop Retouching Really Deserve Its Bad Image?

Retouching is getting a very bad name in the media these days, and photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino is fighting back against a possible law in France that would require any Photoshop image to clearly mention its changes via a warning label. While instances of bad airbrushing and tampering have become extremely apparent as of late, he’s out to show that not all alterations are bad. In fact, he wants to prove that they’re more commonplace than anyone realizes. This weekend, he published a photo of a woman Photoshopped in Libération’s Next magazine, but instead of giving her skinnier hips, he enhanced her curves (reminiscent of Beth Dittos’ Love cover).Mondino also claims image alteration is an old practice. Ever since photography was created, artists have utilized techniques to give women longer limbs and clearer complexions in the name of creating what may be perceived as a more aesthetically pleasing image. “The photos of old Hollywood? Retouched! The iconic image of Che Guevara? Retouched! All the photos taken by Richard Avedon of Marilyn Monroe? Retouched!,” he told the paper. “And all of this before today’s software existed, of course. Legs were lengthened using a wide angle; skins were smoothed through overexposure.” So really, Photoshop is nothing new — just more technologically advanced.

Haven’t you chosen a good angle to feature when you’re the subject of a photograph? I know I’ve certainly read (and use) all the tricks to taking your best picture — put your hand on your hip to make your arm look skinnier, turn sideways and put one foot forwards, push your chin forward and suck in. Do you use tricks to alter your photos? Aren’t we all guilty of a bit of camera magic? [On the other hand, while we can recognize that image alteration is ubiquitous and has been for some time, is moving away from it a positive evolution or does it just make for “ugly” pictures? — Editor] [WWD]