I’m a little over all the fake beauty lately. It’s in every part of our lives. As some of you may know, I’m studying photography at TAFE and so am paying a lot more attention than I ever did before to photos. I see photo competitions on facebook and ads in magazines and wonder, whatever happened to photography. I mean REAL photography, straight from the camera to you. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete purist. I do believe in touching up photos to some extent. I’ve always looked at photos I’ve taken and maybe removed a blemish or lightened a photo that was too dark etc. As a middle aged woman, a few wrinkles removed here and there never really hurt anyone either. But to see women who are in their mid 50s without a single wrinkle? Even Doris Day’s soft lens didn’t look that unrealistic. I really hate that we are manipulating photos so much that there is now an expectation that reality can’t live up to.
Here in Australia, we have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The skies light up with the most glorious shades of reds, pinks, purples and golds. Nature does not need help in creating beauty. It’s had thousands of years of experience at beauty before Photoshop came along. Tweaking a photo is one thing but totally repainting the reality is another. I did some photos the other day and they all turned out darker than I wanted so I had to lighten most of them.. But when I see sunsets that have now had so much color added to them I wonder why.
Have we become so blase to the beauty around us that we have to try to make perfection more perfect? Why does a glorious sunset have to be changed? Why do we have to add more and more color till it ends up looking nothing like the real thing? Sometimes you do have to add a bit here and there as the camera cannot capture what the eye sees so we do help it out a bit but some of the photos I’m seeing now look so overdone that I ask what was so wrong with the beauty of the original that it has to be so manipulated.
It just seems this need to have more, more, more of everything is taking away our ability to see beauty in reality. Have a look at a photo of an old person. They are beautiful. It’s a beauty that tells of years of wisdom and heartache and laughter. Wrinkles look natural. Now I’m certainly not saying we should never improve nature a bit.. I wear make up, I dye my hair and I would certainly soften a few lines in a photograph but I don’t want to look 21 again either. I’m 51 and I’ve earned my wrinkles. grey hair and love handles. Of course I try to look the best I can and I am vain enough to want to look a few years younger than my age but no lines on the face of a woman my age doesn’t look natural or beautiful. It looks bizarre. If you need any further proof of this, look at Joan Rivers. It’s not natural.
There is beauty in a new born baby.. There is beauty in middle age and there is beauty in old age. All stages of our lives are glorious and we should celebrate them. A tree in winter with no leaves, naked and bare is every bit as beautiful as when it is in full bloom. It’s a different beauty but a beauty all the same. A sky that is dark and grey is as beautiful as the northern or southern lights. If all we ever saw was bright neon colors in the sky, we would long to see the beauty and contrast of grey and white clouds. Thankfully, nature already gives us a range of beauty depending on the season. We just need to learn to appreciate it.
A friend took a photo of an old man in the street last week and was trying to work out if she preferred it in color or black and white. I preferred it in color. Why?? Because in color you could see every age spot, every wrinkle, the fragility of his skin and the weariness in his eyes. He is beautiful just as he is. Don’t get me wrong, the black and white version was gorgeous too. It wasn’t manipulated but for me,I still preferred the color as it emphasised the beauty of his age. It was a work of art and yet just a simple picture. He’s earned every one of those age spots and wrinkles and lines. They are beautiful.
I used to chat in a chat room and I never ceased to be amazed at the women (and some men) who would put glamour shots up as their profile picture. Now that’s okay if you are never planning on meeting anyone but most of those people were actively looking for a partner. They are going to eventually realise you don’t look like that young woman in leather with breasts up under your chin and a completely airbrushed face and neck. I always got angry when I met someone if their photo wasn’t representative of the reality. Not because they weren’t as good looking or tall or muscular but because they had lied to me. If you are going to misrepresent yourself before I’ve met you, what are you going to do after we’re together? And if a person is shallow enough to only want to go out with you because you’re a dead wringer for Angelina Jolie in your profile but in all reality you actually look like Phyllis Diller, chances are you aren’t going to keep their attention for long.
Photoshop and Lightroom are fantastic tools. They really can make a good photographer look like the Leonardo Da Vinci of the camera world but they must be used with care. By constantly misrepresenting the world around us, whether it be people, places, sunsets, rivers etc, we are selling ourselves short and raising expectations for a world that can’t live up to those expectations. I saw a photo the other day of the perfect photograph..Well it would have been if such a scene actually existed in the real world. I think the photographer must have taken it in the Land of Oz (not Aust) or perhaps Brigadoon. The almost purple sky held a PERFECT double rainbow with PERFECT color the whole way, which reflected PERFECTLY into the PERFECT river which ran through the PERFECT bright green field which…… well you get my drift. It would have been a beautiful painting, the image of what we would love the world to look like but this was pretending to be the real thing.
I hate to think that we will all come to expect so much from the world because of the manipulations that we see, that reality can never make us happy in comparison. A sunrise with no color is still a magnificent sight. A rainbow that fades halfway down the arc is still beauty personified. A man with wrinkles and imperfections is still a perfect creation. A woman who has curves is the way nature intended her to be. On the other hand, a woman in her 60s with no wrinkles is either genetically blessed beyond all reason or has a great plastic surgeon. A bright red sunset with purple and pink flares across the sky, all reflecting into an ocean that has turned scarlet with a bright neon orange sun taking up most of the horizon with ducks gliding across it’s face (not casting shadows funnily enough) and a triple rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it, is the result of a badly color blind photographer fixing his work on Photoshop or mother nature on an acid trip.
Can we stop manipulating beauty so it’s unachievable? Can we stop expecting the world to entertain us and always have to outdo itself to keep our attention? Can we stop expecting people to be perfect? Nature is perfection. I wouldn’t ever wear pink and yellow together (at least not since the 80’s) yet a flower does it with the most amazing beauty. The sunsets that occur naturally are awe inspiring, unless of course you want the Photoshopped version. There is beauty all around us and we are missing so much of it because our eyes are trained towards the manipulated versions of everything, be it animal, mineral or vegetable.
There is beauty all around us and we cannot hope to ever improve on what Mother Nature provides for us. We can photoshop an image but we can’t photoshop the reality. We can airbrush the wrinkles but we can’t carry the airbrush around in our pocket to fix how we really look. Let’s just try to be happy with reality. It’s really all we have if Photoshop crashes. And all in all, I think it’s pretty damn fine. Let’s color our world with happiness instead of a digital paintbrush. I see a bright happy future if we can be happy with our reality.
Happy Coloring…. Livvy 🙂
With the help of a digital palette.
The reality lol.