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Beauty Retouching by PetaPixel

News sources via Social Media often portray editing softwares, notably Adobe Photoshop, in a negative light. Speaking personally, Photoshop and constructed imagery is crucial to my working process. Much of this is in relation to beauty standards and portrayal of women in Western visual culture.

Photographs have the reputation of representing truth, which is perhaps why so much negativity surrounds artists who use Photoshop to alter imagery. However, image manipulation has a lengthy history, and has been happening in the photographic industry long before Photoshop was invented.

Analogue retouching processes were, and still are, in fact "a thing," and PetaPixel's short article presents images of actress Joan Crawford, photographed by George Hurrell, and retouched by James Sharp.

The author, Michael Zhang, suggests looking at Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits and George Hurrell's Hollywood if you're interested in early retouching. For Art History enthusiasts and scholars alike, I recommend conducting additional research on fine artists commissioned to be court painters and portraitists. Perhaps it is time to view Photoshop as the tool it is, and turn a critical eye toward society's expectations with body image and portrayal of women. After all, if you're merely an artist you do what the king wants; what you're commissioned to do.


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