Retouching Fashion Photographs – Anti-Airbrushing Campaign

I’ve always had a thing about retouching fashion photographs – Sometimes I like it and sometimes I hate it! This is not a new issue, photographs have been retouched since the dawn of photography; here is my retouching set circa 1920s (old school, not Photoshop):

retouching fashion photographs with L & C. Hardtmuth retouching setMy Jonathan Fallowfields “Artists'” retouching set by L & C. Hardtmuth, Austria. I bought it about thirty-five years ago, used it lots for retouching B&W photographs (hobbyist)! The set containes: A brass porte-crayon (leadholder or pencil extender). 2 triangular pencils/leadholders, marked L & C Hardtmuth, Austria, No3 and No4. A Hardtmuth branded wooden tube containing additional leads. And lastly a rolled chamois leather dual-pointed blending tool (AKA a stump).

This brief blog post was triggered by ‏@hji Hairdressers Journal, and let’s face it, they should know all about retouching because they’ve been in the hairdressing magazine business since 1882 – here is their tweet:

HJ love @melenietudor Melenie Tudor’s modern take on the Mohawk, so do I, it’s wonderful – the rest of Melenie’s collection are brilliant too. (Melenie Tudor at En Route Hair & Beauty, was a finalist for HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards 2014, North Western Hairdresser of the Year.)

My point is though; can you see what looks like three layers of freehand shading (a sort of a loose scribble) on the side/undercut section? How Very Odd! Has Melenie Tudor’s hair photograph been photoshopped? If it has: who did it and why, and isn’t it V.sad? (And not very well executed)

We are in an age where photoshopping is the norm, Miley Cyrus actually thanked a photographer for not photoshopping out her armpit hair – and meant it – you’ve got to love her for that; meanwhile, celebrities are anxiously tweaking their selfies with image editing Apps. (note to self: must Photoshop my beer-belly!) Obviously it’s all about their public image, perfection and removing perceived impurities. However for me, especially in hairdressing, it is those impurities or imperfections that are essential for individualism and consequently they reflect Real Beauty.

Real beauty isn’t a fantasy, it’s not about trying to escape from reality; it is about acceptance, confidence, empathy and love. What I’m saying is: to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect – and neither does a haircut.

Maybe photographs should carry a Photoshop health warning? Patently I support the anti-airbrushing campaign and the campaign for real beauty – in the meantime, here is a handy tool to Authenticate Your Photos – via Hany Farid.