How Far Do You Go To Make People Look Good?

By Alison Fulton
“A picture never lies.” Maybe that used to be true, once upon a time, but nowadays we are all aware as designers that photos frequently fib.

wikipedia commons: VALUA VITALY

Have you ever edited a person’s photo for your designs? I am not talking about standard color-correction so that an image displays the way you intend it to in your chosen medium, but rather softening those shadows and lines that the merciless camera is emphasizing in a way that you wouldn’t notice if you were looking at that person in natural light. Have you?

It is well-known that America is a society that worships people who look young, and that celebrities in the public eye (and increasingly not so public people) go to extraordinary lengths to look younger. While I, too, admire the young and the beautiful, I wish there wasn’t such relentless pressure to look endlessly younger than your years.

On the other hand, as a designer, I like shiny things. The chrome. I like pretty people and things, and I like my designs to look as perfect as I can make them.

So where does one draw the line (or halt the mouse) when correcting a photo? My personal line in the sand is that I won’t cut a distracting feature completely, but I will do what I would do for a friend or family member and visually dilute it in a subtle way. And I definitely choose the most flattering photo any time there is more than one to choose from.

Related resources
Fast Company
Photoshopped photos


Photo of Alison Fulton
Alison Fulton

Full disclosure: this is a very flattering photo of the author of this blog post.

Alison Fulton recently moved into emedia as a senior content specialist at Advanstar Communications following 20+ years as an art director there.

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