Thursday, February 07, 2008

Photoshop Ethics

This week my J210 class is continuing our discussion of “Photoshop Ethics.” We are maintaining this discussion in the context of who makes decisions about what is “true” and who determines what we think of certain issues, such as the “standards” for “beauty.” The two are closely intertwined, because with the advent of Photoshop , any discussion of “beauty” takes on a new, digital meaning (just take a look at the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, for instance). So, once again, the question becomes, who is setting the “standards,” and why?
In this limited space, I don’t want to go into a diatribe on advertising and on post-capitalism, I instead just want to point back, to the power of Photoshop. I chose this image (which I’ve already used in its original version in a blog post much further down) because it sets the tone for any discussion on the relation between advertising capitalism and body image and “beauty.” I’ve always liked the mage, a street scene in New York City near Chelsea Market, because of its composition and subtle multiple messages. But it wasn’t’ a sunny day, and the original image as picked up on my digital camera was not particularly “snappy.” Enter Photoshop.
So, the question becomes, am I “cheating” because I enhanced the image to make it more closely match what I had in mind when I framed it? I think the consensus I’m hearing is that when it is art, the photographer is in charge; but when it is journalism, the rules are more fixed.
For another take, with examples, on this issue follow this link:


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