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Excessive photo editing dishonest, misleading

by Kate Riley,

As if the annual Victoria' s Secret Fashion Show weren't enough, creating the perfect body image has become a part of everyday life for so many women, and billboards, television shows and photographs have skewed what beauty really is.

Retouching. Altering. Changing. All of these words point to the overarching goal: improving. The lighting and setting may be fine, but photographers and editors often seem to find something wrong with the subject of a photo, often a person. 

So, why not just erase a few pounds in a few seconds? What about adding shimmer to an eye or height to a model — what's the harm in that? 

The answer is simple: everything. 

There is a reason I always wanted to be a photojournalist — to tell the truth. To capture a moment that often cannot be described adequately in words. But too often a moment has been "made better" through smoothing over a person's face, brightening their hair color or removing an unwanted item in the foreground. 

But what good does this really do?

This doesn't show the moment that actually happened. It makes it fake. And this is what makes women today believe they aren't good enough. I am a victim of it. At some point, I'm sure that most women, let alone college-age women, have fallen victim to it. We all want to be as pretty as the girl on television. Or in a magazine. Or on a billboard. 

 "Fix one thing, then another and pretty soon you end up with Barbie," said Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and a digital forensics expert at Dartmouth in an interview with The New York Times.

It's true — once the software is learned and used, it's hard to quit, to suppress the desire to make the girl that much skinnier or to make the subject look a little bit more like you want in order to convey a certain message. Take TIME magazine's 1994 O.J. Simpson cover. TIME used Simpson's mug shot as its cover photo, and it probably would have been OK — if Newsweek hadn't run the same photo in its original form. 

TIME darkened Simpson's mug shot, making him look more sinister and, in turn, guilty. This is a prime example of photo manipulation, an example of why it should never be done. 

A news publication is supposed to be unbiased and tell a news story as it is, without offering any opinion or advice. Yeah, a lot of people thought Simpson was guilty, but that doesn't mean a news organization gets to publicly announce its view. Why do you think so many people don't trust the media anymore?

So please, keep the photo retouching to a minimum. I admit I alter the brightness and contrast sometimes, but this is to better show the action of the photo and bring clarity, not to make up what is not there. Just watch what you do. 

It's not worth it to lose your reputation as a photographer just to look 10 pounds skinnier. 

Let's stick to the facts instead.