My response to “The Letter” and the use of Photoshop in editing images.
When “The Letter” first broke on the web-o-sphere a while back I would get three to four links for it from friends and clients every week. I still get it on occasion. While I think the actual source may be questionable, I do believe it brought up important issues.
I’ve addressed those concerns in some form or another over several posts in a round-about way. Today I’m going to break a “rule” about boudoir blogging (Always talk about the experience, never talk technical aspects. No one cares about the tech stuff) by talking about tech stuff. Specifically the use of Photoshop in “fixing” things.
Now, I must be completely honest. There was a time, many years ago, when I used Photoshop like a sledgehammer. I would completely wipe out skin texture and turn people into creatures that looked like Barbie’s sister. The skin would look like plastic by being completely smooth. I would use the Liquefy Tool and reshape everyone into a vague representative of an ideal shape. Push this in, pull those out, shave off substantial weight all over. I could go on.
The point is, I would spend a substantial amount of time to turn someone into something that really didn’t look like the real person. Some people were happy with it but I always thought there was a better way. A more honest way. A way that put more emphasis on the posing and lighting to accent the positive while subtly diminishing “issues of concern.”
So I started to change my workflow. I spent a good year experimenting, studying, researching, evaluating and trying some more. I also incorporated the pre-shoot consult to discuss what should be accented and what should be worked around before a camera is even turned on. This alone alleviates a lot of fears and makes for a stronger session.
My driving goal became one of showing someone as they would look on their best day. The consult, the poses, the lighting all work in harmony to bring out the best images that show a confident, sensual woman comfortable in her own skin. That is, in my honest opinion, the most important part. The person has to be confident and open in the images. Everything can be perfectly exposed and such but if the confidence isn’t there, it all falls apart.
Photoshop became a polishing tool rather than a sledgehammer. I use it much less nowadays. I use it to fix exposure issues, color balance or convert to black and white. I use it to remove temporary blemishes. I use it to REDUCE wrinkles when needed instead of removing them.
Don’t want to show stretch marks? Then I will pose you in a way to conceal them. Want a little extra boost up top? Then I will pose you in a way to do just that. Want to show off long legs? Show off a shapely back? Eyes? Anything else? Posing.
Better yet, let it all go. Show the world that you don’t care about what they think. You earned this body. If someone has a problem with it then it’s their problem, not yours.
Yes, I know there are those that still desire to be overworked and turned into something they are not. Yes, there are plenty of other photographers out there that would be more than happy to do that for them. That’s not me, though. I think everyone is beautiful AS THEY ARE NOW. What you see today are a much more true representations of the people I work with.
The point is embrace who you are now, as you are now. There’s no better you than you. You’re perfectly perfect as you are right now. Why deny yourself because you don’t think you fit some vague public’s unobtainable perception of “beautiful”?
Why not indulge yourself now?
Miss Jessica here embraced this concept whole-heartedly.
Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based boudoir photographer covering the Hampton roads community. Contact him today at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your session.