Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The world of Photoshop

Benefit, Dishonest or Lying

I feel that not everybody understand that the use of Photoshop is not just on images; it is also used in TV, videos, print ads, online videos etc. In short, Photoshopped images are everywhere.
The question is how much are these images are altered in order to achieve a particular look. Furthermore, to what extent does the general public understand how much an image is altered? In my opinion, Photoshop is a tool used to be creative. However, when used to alter images for ads, a Photoshopped image is not really a true representation of the product being sold. As a result, I feel that laws should be passed were ads should state that they have been altered.
One of the main strategies of altering images in the media is to reinforce the idea of what is consider normal in mass media. For example in mass media, the idea of the ideal women is represented as extremely thin, tanned, and no unsightly bumps.
Source: business of fashion: GagaDaily, Versace 

Due to the large amount of edited images, when an image is not changed it is consider ugly. For example, the above image is a photo shoot of Lady Gaga in a Versace ad. The image on the left is unedited and Lady Gaga looks sick whereas, the image on the right she looks polished and classy. In many ways, one can consider this lying because the image on the right is not what Lady Gaga looks like in real life. It is a dramatization of her and this is the way the public views her.

Is She Real? Does it really matter?

A great example to illustrate how models in these images are not real is through the famous Dove campaign “Evolution.” This video shows a regular woman who is changed both through makeup and Photoshop to look like a supermodel. In the video, they show how her face is manipulated to look thinner and longer. It even eliminated all of the small imperfections and drew attention to features such as her lips and eyes to an unrealistic amount.
With this being said, Dove still releases images of Photoshopped woman in their ads so one has to question if it really does matter if a girl is Photoshop or not in an ad. In my opinion, I don’t care if an image is altered, what I do care about is that people do not always know that the image has been altered. Rather, they believe mistakenly think that the edited image reflects how people actually look. That is why I believe it would be a good idea to pass laws to force companies to include a statement in their ads stating the image has been digitally altered.
On the positive side, this campaign was the start of many videos and workshops that Dove ran to support and promote what a real woman really is. The campaign also started a revolution of sorts where other people discussed and reconsidered the value or harm that a Photoshopped ad had in our society.

For example, the agency Ogilvy Toronto attacked the advertising industry and fellow colleagues through a video called “Thought Before Action”. In the video, Ogilvy creates a tool called “Beautify” which gives a glow effect to a models skin. It then promoted the tool and told the viewer to download it for free from Reddit. Once you download the tool and use it to brighten the model’s skin, it reverts all of the changes of the image to reveal the original.

Literal or Metaphorical

Images created in ads are meant to be metaphorical but not everybody understands that. When you see images over and over again, you start to believe that is what should be reality. I do not blame art directors for insisting that images be retouched because it is an expected part of the industry and our culture. I am hoping that in time, with campaigns like “Evolution” by Dove and Ogilvy’s “Thought Before Action”, it will spark some undertaking and change within the industry to promote more awareness to tell people that the images in the ads are not real. Passing laws to insist that agencies include a disclaimer in their ads may not be a final solution but it but it might be a step in the right direction.


Kraskinsky, S. (2013, March 21). What's behind the culture of Photoshop in advertising. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/whats-behind-the-culture-of-photoshop-in-advertising/article10111740/

Olson, C., & Jensen, S. (2014, June 23). Op-Ed | Photoshopped Fashion Ads Should Be Labelled - BoF - The Business of Fashion. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/06/op-ed-photoshopped-fashion-ads-labelled.html

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