"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells the less you know" -Diane Arbus

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We all know what magazines look like, what they stand for, and have formulated an opinion as to whether we like them or not. Some say they are the cause for many of the issues among society regarding self images, self esteem, and the current eating disorder epidemic. Other believe they are simply harmless little booklets with cute pictures, funny stories and half-way decent advice.

Recently we have all been debating over the idea of retouching photographs. We all know much photoshop work goes into the photos between the actual shoot and the printing of the magazine. For some it makes them feel better that the seemingly flawless girl on the cover probably does have a few wrinkles, a blemish or two and her hair is probably not that shiny and bouncy. However, for many they can't get past how beautiful this front page girl is even though they know it's not what she really looks like. All they see is someone better looking than themselves and they set unrealistic goals and standard for themselves.

Right now in the United States depression is a very prominent mental illness. In fact according to the World Health Organization of the 121 million suffering with it worldwide 18 million of those cases are in the U.S. It is estimated that twenty percent of teenagers will suffer from depression by the time they are young adults.

Now the question is, do the photos in magazines play a significant role in this widespread depression? My vote is yes. I feel that it doesn't matter if we see the process from beginning to end on how the photos are altered, we see what we want to see. There is a beautiful confident woman on the cover of the magazine, and she is prettier and more successful than we will ever be. We see what we want to see, and we think what we want to think. Regardless of the alterations of the photos we still have the media telling us what we should look like, and that images is expressed in magazines.

Also, as an art form I feel that it's almost amoral to edit photos like that. It takes a skilled photographer to capture the true beauty of someone, and relying on computer technologies to finish the job just isn't fair. The people to take pictures of models and celebrities should be geniuses with lighting, set design, and all the functions of their camera to be able to take a picture so beautiful and so real, that retouching wouldn't even cross one's mind. It almost takes away for the wonders of photography. The ability to capture someone and their essence for who they are in reality, not for who the world thinks they should be.

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