Every day we are bombarded by thousands of images, many of them altered. They may be color graded, enhanced to turn dull light into a sunset, or liquified so that each curve of the body is pinched and expanded just right, skin smoothed to perfection. Digital editing software has become so good, that our brains no longer perceive the alterations.
As a fashion photographer, I am ethically challenged by an assumed need for human perfection. Retouching is a major part of my commercial work but I am disturbed by how many people I have tricked into thinking my photographed models look as they do in real life.
I started this body of work by marking up my photographs with pencils and paint, similar to what I would do on a computer. I might lighten under the eyes, erase small blemishes, or block out imperfections with paint to let viewers know the piece has been altered. It produces a manual effect that can’t be achieved with the arsenal of tools in Photoshop.
On each of these pieces, I blocked out the eyes, making them the most intense part of the portraits. By taking them away, the models have become less themselves. It is no longer a portrait of that person, but an epidermis in pretty clothes waiting to be smudged, cloned and filtered into a modern image of beauty.