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Photographs + Celebrities = Controversy (Thank you, Danny Evans)

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We start off the week with an unique edition in our ‘Controversy of the Week’ category.  It’s unique because there’s no controversy in what this photographer has done but there’s lots of controversy in the reverse of this photographer’s unusual exploits.  Odd?  Strange?  Let’s see.

The past week saw Danny Evans become a world-famous photographic artist by way of his ‘Celebrities as Ordinary People’ series in which he gave those who’re under-talented and over-exposed a ‘make-under.’  Check it out on HuffPost or Demilked.

Actually Evans was trying to draw attention to the sleazy side of the photography business that has become a near-epidemic: celebrity image photoshopping.  As he said himself, “It was a reaction to the over-Photoshopped images of celebrities that we see everyday.  I thought it would be interesting to take it in the opposite direction.”

It’s good to read such candour, which is only one half of it.  The controversy lies in the flip side.

When they’re caught, our day and age’s plastic celebrities make a lot of noise as to how the photoshopping was done without their knowledge, chastise the supposedly errant publications, and release supposedly unretouched photos of themselves.  Ain’t they such honest, down-home folks?

The (edifying) truth is that manufacturing silk purses out of sow’s-ear celebrities is a million-dollar industry.  Believe it or not (you probably do), the magazine photos you see of Briny Spears, Jennifer Lopes, Rihania, et al are nothing like what they look in real life, especially without the two-hour makeup and hair sessions that they undergo before shoots, concerts and appearances.  To put it another way – and assuming you want to do such a thing – in your photographs you can look like them!  Meet the people who’ll help you with that (for a small fee, of course):–
•  Retouche, among other services, provides “Intense photo manipulations”
•  Daniel Meadows, who has worked for Harper’s Bazaar, offers “subtle perfection”
•  Glenn Feron, as a “retouch artist,” will “enhance” your beauty

However, it’s our final two introductions, The Glamour Photographer and Jen Ruhman, whose frankness enlightens us to the truth behind all this:–
“Girls have you ever wanted to look like the girls in the fashion and men’s magazines?” The Glamour Photographer asks. “Their skin is just so flawless and their bodies look amazing. . . . Specializing in portrait, glamour and skin retouching we can turn that image from ‘great’ to ‘amazing’ . . . We can remove minor to major blemishes, skin scarring, pimples, significant lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, tattoos and acne. We also can do breast enhancement and weight reduction.”
“Celebrities and models know what a good quality photo retouching can do for their personal image and fame,” Jen Ruhman explains.  “Even on their worst days of having breakouts, weight gain, and premature skin wrinkles, celebrities and models know they need a little help and can rely on the professional skills of  graphic designer such as myself. I can transform a persons photos to look flawless, youthful smooth skin, whitened teeth, chiseled abs, well rested . . .”
—And these are the secrets as to how those sow’s ears are transformed into silk purses!

The Glamour Photographer’s and Jen Ruhman’s unintentional spilling of the beans exposes the problem with all this smoke and mirrors: it’s a form of deception.  Those celebrity photographs are visual lies.

Celebrities and their worshippers already live in a distorted, make-believe world that’s a little disconnected from reality.  Should ethical photographers be promoting and fostering ‘reality disconnects’ among the general public?

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One Response

  1. BradClement says:

    Believe it or not most of the time this is the truth. Paparazzi is one of the biggest problem celebrities are facing for quite long time. This is a moral issue and this issue should be resolved.

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