In a time when retouched photos dominate the pages of even the most serious magazines and newspapers, a gadget launched by the Swedish government in 2007 is once more a hot topic online. A most enlightening "before and after".
The Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs came up with the idea in an attempt to fight the beauty stereotype imposed by the media; in particular women's magazines. The agency commissioned with the campaign, Forsman & Bodenfors, created a site called Girl Power, in which they attempted to illustrate the magic of Photoshop. The model is called Lynn, she's 14, and she's posing for supposed chic-lit mag "Metropolitan". Chin, eyes, chest... in a few clicks, the pretty schoolgirl is transformed into a luscious young woman.
In light of this eye-opening demonstration, we asked a professional: has retouch gone too far?
Thomas P. is a professional photographer specialised in beauty fashion.
The role of a photo, particularly in advertising, was never to reflect reality, but to idealise it. With today's campaigns, a photo is there to service a brand, a product - we retouch depending on the demands of the client. Some ask very for glossy images, while others want an 'image incarnate' - something close to a real woman. Sometimes, we end up with things that personally I find hideous, like Dior's recent campaign where Monica Bellucci's head is edited onto the body of someone else entirely, and the arm is of yet another girl.
These days we've reached a standard minimum of touch-ups with publicity images. There are imperfections that people aren't used to anymore and that would be hard on the eye. Maybe we've gone too far. I think when a journalistic photo - which, unlike an advert, is supposed to show reality - is retouched, then I doubt that the photographer is aware that his photo's been altered. The decision comes down to the publication or the press service of the celebrity in question."