Saturday, August 20, 2011

Photos Not Re-Touched

“Is that really you?”

No, it’s a pixelated image of me.

Recently, I was thinking about how I need to do another photo shoot since the pictures I’m using are way past the one year mark. (It’s been one and a half years to be exact.) That brought to mind an exchange that took place when I had the old ones taken. I’d decided (during a brief period of insanity) to reenter the online dating arena and, having been dissatisfied with my earlier makeup-less pics taken with my point-and-click digital camera, wanted something more professional looking.

I scheduled an appointment with a local photographer (who has a great report with his clients, btw), and let his stylist do whatever with my face. Looking back, I know I should’ve spent more time prepping (primping). And something appears to have gone wrong the either the makeup or the lighting. But all in all, the results were satisfactory. I was happy with photos, and everyone I showed them too loved them.

That said, I was still advised to have them re-touched. As I sat at a computer looking at the dozen or so photographs, the retoucher guy was telling me about all the changes “we” should make. I was a bit taken back by this. It wasn’t as though the idea was new to me. I’d “photoshopped” an image or two to because of red-eye or poor lighting. But manipulating a photo to hide physical blemishes and imperfections seemed like overkill.

I’m not a professional model whose only purpose is to sell something. I’m a real person who’s keenly aware of what goes on on dating sites. Everyone has a tale about meeting someone who didn’t look like his or her picture, either because it was an old one or a fraud. Maybe I was paranoid, but it seemed dishonest to paint myself a flat tummy when I not motivated enough to make it a reality.

Twelve years ago, I sat in a class on the history of jazz music. The professor talked about the one-shot recordings. In the 1920s, bands like Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five didn’t have the luxury of cutting and pasting their six best takes, and rerecording was expensive. So the listener is treated to what amounts to a live performance, flaws and all. But we tend to love the genuineness of those early recording…sort of like the old movie swordfights: real skill, no special effects to make people look cooler than they really are.

But wait! Don’t makeup, hair dye, and undergarments of steel create an ideal that will never materialize? Can’t clothing, lighting, and well-selected camera angles hide flaws anyway? Where do we draw the line? It’s impossible to second guess anyone browsing your profile. Who knows what will offend someone.

On the other hand, do guys ever even notice?