Photoshop - is that really how she looked?

You've heard it before, I know you have.

That photo on the front of that magazine is Photo-shopped!

And you are probably right.

There has been a huge groundswell against photo-shopping photos used in marketing and promotional material, not to mention just about any other place that a photo might be used, shown or viewed in any way. 

Recently there was a huge Photoshop blunder made by Target when they placed ads that were horribly cropped - obviously cut out - and with exaggerated limb lengths. Ellen had some fun with this when she invited the model on her show (Watch video here)... apparently her arms really are that long (tongue in cheek). 

But what about your Wedding Photographs? Is it OK to Photoshop the bride?

Photoshop Wedding or Family Photos?

This family portrait was distracted by
the garbage at Dad's feet.
As a wedding and family photographer, I will admit that I use Photoshop to adjust photos. First of all for the basics of colour correction, enhancing contrast and possibly even to add some special effects to give the image an extra emotional tug. But I do also Photoshop an image for some of the more controversial reasons.

Sometimes you may get a great shot in a perfect location, but you missed a piece of garbage on the ground... no problem. Who wants to pick up those disgusting cigarette butts that have been lying, soaking in the rain for days? (See the inset image - I definitely didn't want to pick up those butts!) I'd rather get rid of them in post. 

Those kind of changes could have easily been made at the scene without Photoshop, but you don't always have time in the moment to catch those details or a desire to touch the mess. Is that OK?

Perhaps you got a great image in a park, but there's a car in the background that's just too distracting. You couldn't get quite the right angle at the time to get it out of frame, and you knew it would be an awesome photo otherwise - Is it going too far to remove the car from the image?

A little bit of clean up in post processing and the
garbage is gone. If only it were that easy in real life.
Maybe you got a great photo of Mom and Dad, but his hand is just peaking over her shoulder in a way that looks a bit creepy... easy enough to remove. But should you?

And what about the bride who is overflowing her dress a little too much. She's totally in the moment and enjoying her day and it would be impolite, not to mention emotionally upsetting when she's enjoying the most important day of her life, to ask her to tuck back in ... is it OK to Photoshop away a little bit of cellulose after the fact?

Maybe a bride or groom has some bad blemishes - the result of too much chocolate at the stag and doe party - that she/he tried their best to conceal. Would it be OK to make them disappear in the photos by using a little digital magic?

Yeah, there is probably a line you don't want to cross, but where exactly do you draw it?

Is there a line?

As a rule of thumb, I want the photos I work on to look real. That is, that it is an image of the person being photographed. That means, if a bride can't recognize herself I have definitely gone too far. That includes features that are distinguishing - such as birth marks or natural features such as moles, etc. On the other hand, if a blemish won't be there next week, why should it be in the wedding photo?

If something in the edit stands out and says "that's not right" then it's a bad edit and should never have been done.

When I do have to remove a few pounds here and there, I prefer it when the bride (or groom) views the photos that they never even notices they have been 'shopped. It should not be obvious even to the person themselves.

There is definitely a line you shouldn't cross. What do you think? Is it OK to Photoshop a Wedding Photo or a Family Photo? and if so, how far is too far?


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