The Problem with Photoshop

This is a legacy post that has been given a facelift for clarity and readability. Opinions are the same. Enjoy!

There’s a lot of chatter in the beauty realm. Some positive, uplifting, and fantastic. Some catty, hateful, and rude. Others are debate-worthy, but fall on neither side of the spectrum. One hot debate topic in this realm is whether or not it using Photoshop or other image editing techniques on beauty photos is acceptable.

The way I see it, there are two sides to this coin.

For example:

You’re an amazing makeup artist or Instagram superstar and you do this stunning glitter double-wing (or whatever). It’s your best work!

but you happened to have the misfortune of a blemish appearing just above your brow or on your cheekbone. Something. Something, “bad,” something not aesthetically pleasing that would potentially distract and draw focus attention from your awesome eye look. Concealer can only get you so far with it, and in a close-up shot to show the detail of your wing, there’s no hiding it by hand.

So you shop it out so the focus is on badass glitter double-wing, not on your unfortunate blemish.

I believe this is fine.

Also, if you do a look but in your photography the colors aren’t ringing true-to-real-life in the image – maybe you have a cerulean that’s pulling cobalt, I don’t know. Maybe it was an issue with the light, maybe it’s just a hard color to capture. I also think it is acceptable to attempt to restore color to what it looks like in real life, though I do think it would be wise to leave a note on a photo retouched this way mentioning that.

It’s a trust thing.

On the other hand…

Maybe you are someone who is, “selling,” their makeup skills (artists, people making tutorials, etc). In that case, isn’t appropriate “fix,” your mistakes with Photoshop or other image editing. If your eyeliner or lipstick application is jumpy, you should fix or redo it with your hands and brushes…not with a mouse.

Did you do a a shoddy job blending your foundation when the photo is a skin-focus photo? Try again; it is not appropriate to slap a little Gaussian Blur on there to help you out. If you aren’t satisfied with the job you did, you need to do it over. Or, if you picked the wrong color foundation – it isn’t cool wave your magical Photoshop wand so it matches.

You will see this in other circumstances, too – people in makeup communities using blurs and Instagram filters before asking for application advice or constructive criticism. It’s like, “Well, I’d be happy to give you advice but your photo has been shopped to hell and back so I can’t tell what’s real and what’s ‘shop.”

Other examples you often run into are hairdressers, “enhancing,” the results color jobs.

Basically, if you’re saying, “Look at my makeup/makeup artistry or haircolor applciation,” you should give an accurate representation. Relying on Photoshop does not challenge you to learn and grow as a makeup artist (or hairdresser).

If you are relying on digital enhancement of your work as a makeup artist, you are misrepresenting your skillset.

AND you are doing your clientele (or prospects) a disservice by providing unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved.

No hate on Photoshop itself, graphic artists, etc. To be sure – retouching photos is an art in and of itself. I just think if you are sharing, “Look at this flawless makeup I did on my client with rosacea,” you better have achieved that flawless canvas with a brush or sponge rather than a computer, otherwise you are lying.

Bottom Line

It boils down to the intention of your photos. It’s one thing to remove distractions so your work can be appreciated, or to return things to real-life color accuracy. It’s another to misrepresent your work.

As for me? I correct the lighting in the pictures I have shared because I live in an apartment with cave-like lighting but ONLY when I need to. At some point, if I had the skills, I could see myself shopping out some scars I have just because they aren’t the point of most of my makeup photos. You can bet your paycheck that if I made a, “how to cover scars,” tutorial that I wouldn’t be shopping out my damn scars and being like, “LOL, basically, I just dot Maybelline Instant Age Rewind on them and tap out with my ring finger – it’s that simple tee-hee!”

How do you feel about the use of image editing in the beauty world?

1 thought on “The Problem with Photoshop”

  1. I find it comforting when I see a blemish in a photograph and I never trust perfect. Admittedly, I will blur out a hangnail if I’m taking a picture of my nail polish.

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