Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reality Is Whatever I Say It Is!

I reject your reality and substitute my own!  ~Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame

Shadows Dance - 031313 - Miz B

I'm a 42 year old mother of two who rarely gets enough sleep and enjoys a chocolate chip cookie on (frequent) occasion.   To say that I LOVE photoshop would be an understatement! 

Way back when I first encountered the modeling industry, any given shoot was likely to be cancelled if the model got a zit, spent a long night up with a sick kid, ate that week, or forgot to paint her nails.   Retouching was expensive and complicated and time-consuming.   Are there women (& men) who can show up on set and live up to the idealized vision to which we've become accustomed?  Sure - but they are the exception to the rule.   Most of us are people, with day jobs, lives, and flaws.  We have good days and bad days and a whole lot in between.   Amen for the miracle of modern technology that allows us to put our best foot (and face) forward anyway! 

I agree with some of your comments on our last post - in this day and age, it's assumed that there is some level of alteration.   As a culture, we auto-tune our musicians, photoshop our models, reduce our news to biased soundbites, dye our hair, surgically alter our bodies, fudge our resumes, spin our profiles, and create alter ego personas for public consumption.   Of course I photoshop ... to me, the key issue is how much.

Side B already mentioned the extreme case of simulating child porn via alteration of legal models to appear pre-pubescent.   Real, virtual, simulated, vaguely referenced - child porn is evil, period.   The sickos who fuel their fantasies and subsequent crimes with these images are encouraged just as much by a modified image as a real one.   I'm not even a fan of completely shaven obviously mature women ... no jungles please, but I don't see anything particularly sexy about trying to look like a 6 year old from the waist down.

As a model, I prefer to ride the line between magazine standard perfection and reality.   I do a lot of live events and appearances ... it doesn't serve me to photoshop my images beyond recognition, because I have to show my actual face/body in public.   So far, the reaction I get most frequently when someone first meets me is "I thought you'd be taller!" -- this is cool by me and vastly preferable to "I thought you'd be younger/ hotter/ thinner/ prettier!"  I want my photos to look like me - albeit the BEST version of me!   My clients and models feel the same way ... they want to capture the real them - but in the best possible way.  Compositing images can help.  Maybe in one shot, the angle is flattering to my figure, but my expression sucks.   In another, I have a radiant smile, but I posed 10 degrees off and look broad as a barn.  When I put them together, it's still me - and still real - even tho it was real 2 minutes apart :-)  

I loved the Photoshop parody that Side B included last time ... I have literally found myself getting ready for an event and wishing I could use all those virtual tools to touch up the living breathing me!   I've become so accustomed to altering reality that I am slightly unsettled by raw images ... I see everything through eyes that are critical of flaws - in people and lighting and framing, etc.   Releasing the bubblebath image in the last post  made me feel more vulnerable and naked and exposed than most of my erotic/nude work.   It's more personal ... crossing over into a private, unedited moment versus playing a role at work that is carefully crafted into a piece of art.   Clearly, the editing, costuming, attitude, etc.  serve me like a superhero's cape and mask ... anyone with half a brain can tell it's me, but the psychological shift into a character allows me the freedom to separate my "self" from my "image."  

One final thought ... I believe one point of art is to escape reality.  The ancient Greek masters of sculpture didn't shoot for realism - they preferred to express idealized versions of their subjects.    Impressionists based their style on the concept of expressing the idea or feeling of something instead of the literal thing itself.   I adore working in silhouette - it eliminates a lot of distracting details and lets your imagination fill in the shadows with your preferred reality.   

I tend to believe that debating and over-thinking art is pointless and defeats the purpose.   Does my image move you?  Does it make you FEEL?   Do you enjoy its viewing?   If you can answer yes to any of these, then we have created a reality, you and I.   Whatever it may have been before, once we share this image, this moment ... reality changes for us both.  Reality is created.  Reality is dynamic.  Reality is whatever we say it is!


  1. While pondering I was listening to some vintage George Jones singing Choices from his The Cold Hard Truth cd. I think most if not all photographers face the choices of to use or not. But the cold hard truth is no matter how much or how little: the "art" of using Photoshop is to use it so well no one realizes it was used.

    D.L. Wood

    1. When it comes to vanity fixes, I agree ... I want to look like I really am that flawless, not like a plastic imitation of myself! However, sometimes I'm shooting for a more stylized, obviously modified, surreal look - in which case the piece is blatantly photoshopped. Perhaps the key is to either be subtle or be obvious, but never to accidentally or sloppily land in the no-mans land of poor editing!

  2. Miz B and D.L. -Very interesting points. I agree that creating art gives a license to bend reality to fit what we want to create. Maybe we should look into how much the license should be extended into commercial (advertising, promotions, etc.)? Art is an expression of the creator. Advertising is selling a product. Interesting digressions ahead, I think. SideB

    1. I think using the most advanced tools available to make your work the best it can be is just a good idea. Every artists has done is since early man, now you are just pushing the envelope, just as the first caveman who used a colored berry instead of charcoal. I REALLY like your colored Berries! :)


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