Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Photoshop and Bloggers

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I took all my blog photos on my mobile phone. It was the quick and easy way to get photos on the go and be able to upload them to my blog almost immediately. These days I've been using my Canon camera, as a semi-pro photographer I decided that I could step up the quality of my photos by combining my two loves together. I set up the photos, and just get someone else to click the camera for me as I don't have a remote trigger. I then run the photos through Photoshop or any other editing programme for a quick bit of colour correction, occasionally to edit out anything that's creeped into the back of the photo that shouldn't have, or to make sure the exposure of the photo is just right. Then they are ready for my blog! One thing I never do, is retouch my skin or edit myself. 


I leave in all the bumps, the stretch marks, the folds of my skin, the hyper-pigmentation, the scars, the eczema. One of the reasons I started blogging is because I think representation is important, and if one person can see my body and see themselves and feel less alone, or even start to realise that their body deserves love too, then I've done everything I could ever have wanted. It's hugely important to me to be real and to share my body as it is. With a higher quality camera, all those little blemishes become much more visible, your iPhone selfie might show your skin in a much more flattering light than a professional camera does, so when bloggers are taking photos with these high quality pieces of technology, in comes the Photoshop pressure.

When you blog, there is so much pressure for everything to be perfect, from your immaculately ironed clothes, to your highly stylised images, everything has to be perfect. If it's not, will a brand want to work with you? Will your readers still love you? There's so much pressure, and I totally get bowing to it, Photoshop is the standard in the media, seeing a published imaged that hasn't spent time being edited and touched up is almost unheard of. It can be hard as a blogger to fight that pressure, particularly when you have a larger audience, because with a larger audience, comes trolls.


I'm not perfect, and that's OK. And seeing other bloggers who look like me share themselves has really helped me realise that all those things that I consider imperfections are actually just fine the way they are. As someone who is body positive, I think not retouching my photos is important. It would feel false to me personally if I retouched my skin and made myself look perfect, when I'm not. To me, taking away the scar on my face would be like shrinking my waist, I'm here to show reality, and my reality is what society deems to be flaws. 


The only time I've ever shared photos of myself that have been potentially retouched is recently, and that is with the photos from my shoot with Shannon Swift. Shannon's work is high fashion and conceptual, it is glossy and perfect, and everyone's highlight is blinding. I'm not wearing any more makeup than usual in the photo above, just my usual eyes and lips, and I asked Shannon to make sure if she did retouch my skin that she left my scar in. I wasn't sure how much I would be retouched, and zooming in, it's clear that Shannon totally got that I'm not into super smooth skin. All my little freckles are still visible, the creases in my eye lids, even the super faint scar on my forehead and the weird white patches on my two front teeth. This made me so happy. I actually don't think she's really touched my skin! When you see professional photographers work it is often so heavily retouched, but that isn't what Shannon has done and it made me so happy! I'm me, just a really awesome well lit version of me.


I'd love to see more transparency from bloggers about the level of retouching in their blog photos. I adore that George of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust shares her shape wear and how she creates the foundations for her vintage looks, I love that Amanda Apparel shares her before and after makeup photos with her psoriasis. I'd love to see bloggers stating that they've been retouched in their photos so people know that they are seeing the perfect version of them, not the reality. Much like I'm glad to see advertisers being forced to declare that a model is wearing false eyelashes in their mascara advert, I want to see bloggers admitting that they've smoothed out their skin. That way their readers know that's not what their foundation really looks like, or that in this high fashion set of photos they've had their skin evened out to make the photos as immaculate as possible. I think this is particularly an issue in beauty blogging, because edited images can make a product seem far better than it is and be very misleading. I've seen bloggers edit out the creases in their lips and make their eyelashes longer, and if you are sharing makeup reviews, that isn't right or fair for your reader.


Transparency is key for me. I don't mind if you feel the need to retouch your photos, I'd just love to know that you are! In this Photoshopped world I'd love to see more real skin and reality. As a kid I was convinced my skin was terrible because I had no idea that sebaceous filaments were perfectly normal, and that I wasn't totally covered in black heads. Actually, my skin is pretty good and I'm very lucky in that respect! I might have eczema but the dryness of my skin means spots are a once a month deal for me and have never been an issue. I've got a bit of a furry face to be honest, I'm covered in fine downy blonde hair, and that's OK too. 


I know sharing your real skin can be a terrifying prospect, especially in this time of Facetune and Photoshop, but think how liberating it would be for a teenager to see their favourite blogger has acne scarring just like them! There's an argument to be had about whether bloggers should be aspirational or not, and for me personally, that's not what I'm about. I'm much more the awkward nerd type than the sort of person someone wishes to be like, so for me, sharing the real me is everything.

It's OK if you feel you need to retouch your photos, but I hope as blogging progresses we can see more transparency in the industry about what has been done to photos. As we declare gifted items and sponsored posts, I'd love to see us all move to declaring Photoshopped images too. Photoshop can make a beauty product seem truly unbelievable, when the reality is that no foundation is ever going to erase your pores and give you the look of a beauty blogger's ring lit portrait.

What do you think?

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

28 comments:

  1. You are such a great writer. I love everything about this post, and agree with you completely. I had no idea that people were retouching their photos to the extent of lengthening eyelashes - and, in the case of sponsored content, there is certainly an argument that the same advertising codes applicable to other kinds of advert should apply.

    I don't have Photoshop - the extent of my photo editing skills are generally colour correction, and using the retouch tool to blur out stray pieces of cat litter that have crept into the backgrounds of mah flatlays. I've done a few before and after skincare shots - those were straight out of the camera, as they should be.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. thank you so so much lovely! I don't have it anymore either as when I got my new laptop I lost my bloody activation code for it so no more for me :) xxx

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  2. Brilliant piece! I used to try and make all my pictures magazine perfect and would spend ages retouching them. After a while I decided that it was not truly myself that I was showing the world and I was part of the issue. Now as well as posting bare skin pics regularly I minimise editing in my photos in terms of retouching. If I have a spot then there it is. Occasionally I will correct the background colour if it's a bit off or lighten up a picture taken in low light. I try to leave them alone unless I am specifically playing with filters and then when I do publish them I caption them as "trying a new filter" or similar. So glad there are others with a similar mindset!

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    1. I think removing something like a spot is different, it's temporary and so I totally get that!

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  3. Love this Kitty. I'm quite the novice and don't even know how to use PhotoShop but I always fess up if I used a filter or Instagram or SnapChat. I think we have enough false representations without adding to it xxx

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  4. I love the idea that some bloggers press their clothes for the photos - I don't even know where my iron is! I don't really edit my photos. I simply crop and add my blog watermark. I don't know how to do anything more than that. I agree on the transparency thing though, it would definitely be nice to know when you're seeing an enhanced version!

    C x
    CurvyGirlThin.com

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    1. My husband won't even let me near our iron haha, I can't be trusted with it xx

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  5. Great post! I love reading blogs for their authenticity. I find quite easy to tell when a blogger isn't honest. I wish everyone was comfortable and confident in their own skin, it would set a great example to others.

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  6. Babe I totally agree! It's good to know what goes into it. I'm the least professional blogger out there. It's very rarely shot on a pro camera (almost everything is on my phone) and I might colour correct if it's a bit dark but that's about it. Lately everything is super high fashion. Which is kinda not quite what it's about really!
    Www.curvesandcurl.co.uk

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    1. And you know I absolutely adore you and your blog honey! xx

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  7. Interesting discussion about online transparency. I'm a food blogger and use both Photoshop and Lightroom. I do edit out some crumbs in the wrong places or a spot on the tablecloth. Although never make big changes because I want to keep the integrity of the shot and really represent the dish as it is

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    1. I totally get that, if you were totally changing how the food looked then that would be a different matter :)

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  8. This is such a beautiful & inspirational post. I totally agree with you. I'm such an amateur when it comes to photography but I totally appreciate what you are saying. x

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  9. my pics will never be perfect - too many toys and the such on the floor!

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  10. I retouched my photos sometimes on Light Room. I play around with exposure, temperature and other settings but don't alter my look.

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    1. I do the same, edit the exposure but never myself

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  11. I've been thinking about investing in a nice camera to take my blog pictures with :)

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    1. I'm greatly missing mine as it's broken atm!

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  12. Really enjoyed this post. My friend Ali just recommended it to me. Thank you for keeping it real and making others question what they see on social media. It's something I like to bang on about in my blog too.
    Like you say it would be good if advertising in all forms were governed by the same rules but in a way it's like brands are getting around the transparency loophole by using bloggers to make their products look even better.
    Keep rambling Kitty.

    Sian x
    www.sians-silver-linings.com

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    1. thanks so much! I really appreciate your comment and input, I totally agree with you x

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  13. I always retouch my photos, it makes them look more clean and polished.

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    1. See I think it's really problematic that we consider retouched skin to be more clean and polished that natural skin

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  14. To be fair you really don't need to edit your skin or anything. You're absolutely stunning as you are and just don't need to. Sometimes I edit pics of myself a little as I have a droopy eyelid and my lashes will cover my actual eye or something. I'm sure nobody else would notice, but I hate it so I just have to do it. I don't edit any other bits of my face or body though :)

    Louise

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    1. aw thank you! Trust me, close up it's not so great. I understand feeling insecure <3

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