Can we believe anything we see with our own two eyes anymore? It’s common to question what we view digitally since digital manipulation occurs so often. Manipulation of various art forms such as audio, videography, and photography, has been around just about as long as the art forms themselves. In fact, since the time of the first cameras photography has always experienced manipulation because a camera
interprets our reality and creates an image based off what it sees. But what about when someone intentionally manipulates a photograph? Under what conditions is manipulation of photography acceptable? One of the first cases of intentional photo manipulation occurred back during the analog days of photography through conventional methods of darkroom in 1917 when Elise Wright, 16, and her cousin Frances Griffith, 10, used a camera to produce what they claimed was a photograph of fairies that were in their garden in Cottingley, England. It was reported that the two admitted their photographs of fairies were fake and were intended for fun.
With the switch from analog to digital, manipulation of photography, as well as other art forms, has become much more common, much easier, and much harder to identify. Certain software and programs
such as Photoshop, and Lightroom have made it more possible for people to manipulate images and deceive their viewers whether it’s all fun and games, or something they truly intend to do to make their image or product more desirable and generate a profit.
Whether we’re using conventional darkroom methods or Photoshop, we must consider ethics and aesthetics when manipulating, correcting, or enhancing a photo. Ethics is basically a set of rules we invent to categorize what is generally good and generally bad. On the other hand, aesthetics deals with the nature of beauty and what is pleasing to our eyes. Ethics and aesthetics are two things many makeup and beauty companies disregard and manipulate.
Makeup lines and other beauty care companies are experts when it comes to manipulating digital photography and creating a desirable image, especially for young women, of something, that in reality, does not exist. The power of deception lies within not knowing you’ve been deceived and expert editors that work for makeup lines and beauty care companies surely know how to deceive people, especially their customers. They manipulate digital photography with fans, fancy lighting and backdrops, and Photoshop, to create the ideal image of a woman. These photos of the ideal woman are then marketed and put out into the world all around us through commercials, magazines, social media, and just about every other form of media there is. When women are being bombarded with these digitally manipulated images it can cause serious issues for women like self-hate, and insecurities. A group of 2700 members were recently surveyed by The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and discovered that one-third of doctors saw increases in procedure requests in the 2013 survey. It is stated that 13 percent of plastic surgeons write that patients requested plastic surgery because the were not satisfied with their appearances in comparison to the woman they saw in various forms of media such as Facebook, Instagram, commercials, and magazine advertisements, that were most likely digitally manipulated images of the ideal woman. Many people, especially young women, are constantly under pressure to meet standards of beauty that are nothing more than manipulated digital media. They are constantly destroying their bodies and even slowly killing themselves through various surgical operations to achieve the look of the ideal woman that is always in the media around them, the woman that does not actually exist. Many digital manipulation experts and beauty care companies seem to not notice or care. So that leaves me to ask, how much is too much?
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Written by Baylen Whitfield on September 3, 2016