12. Where is photography going?

by Tony Quinn

For GQ magazine, the photographs and articles are about selling an ideal. Says editor Dylan Jones:

  • 'Everyone is cleaned up, and it's not just the women. We do the same with men. We are presenting ideal types. There is nothing malevolent in this. It's only about great pictures.
  • 'This sort of thing has been going on since the dawn of showbiz.'

It's a similar story at Conde Nast stablemate Vogue, says editor Alexandra Shulman:

  • 'People buy magazines like Vogue to look at a kind of perfection.
  • 'People are sophisticated enough to know that what they are. seeing is a construct. Nowadays people retouch their own snaps on the computer before posting them on Facebook.'

For fashion photographer Nick Knight, it's about art:

  • 'Originally, photography was seen as a better recorder of truth than painting – that's why it became popular. It's taken us 100 years to realise that is not the case and neither should we want it to be.
  • 'The whole idea that photographers today are a bunch of deviant misfits producing pictures of people that somehow twist the truth in a malevolent way is ridiculous.
  • '[Photoshop image manipulation is] just a way of having more control, and a lot more possibilities, which is extremely exciting.'

Production studios that do such work include:

  • The Shoemakers Elves (Rankin/Dazed & Confused)
  • Pascal Dangin has been described as the 'retouch' artist most sought out by celebrities in the US. Even the 'normal' women in a Dove advert campaign were touched up by him, he says

However, magazine covers are seen as promoting unrealistic body shapes and many people do not like what's going on:

  • In France, people have protested by pasting Photoshop menus strips on advertising hoardings, as shown by Fubiz
  • Comments on Princess Eugenie's 'enhancement' in Tatler included: 'The arm is the giveaway because it looks like an anorexic's' and 'She has lost her youthful bloom'

In 2008, the British Fashion Council warned magazine editors not to let retouching run out of control.

Rosie Boycott, former Esquire and Express editor, also has strong feelings that things have gone too far:

  • 'I don't agree with retouching, although I can see why it happens. I think it's fair enough when it comes to (removing) blemishes, but it gives people unattainable ideas of beauty.

Fashion photographer Juergen Teller is renowned for not retouching his images:

  • It's not what I find beautiful. Beauty advertisers change everything and it doesn't do any good for the psyche of a woman.'

So, But manipulation is being driven by the 'perfection' of celebrity culture ... click to see where it has taken one photographer

Page 13: Sources and Bibliography