The Growing Trend of Retouching in Editorial Photography

The New York Times has an interesting article examining how retouching has spread beyond fashion and advertising photos into editorial photography, conditioning the public to accept images that are “heightened versions of the truth”. One reason is pressure from celebrity subjects:

The demands of celebrities also drive this broader trend toward perfection. Mr. Granger said that he found more photographers are being pressured to produce shots that the actors or actresses like because celebrities then will request the photographer in the future for other magazine covers or for advertising work. That can be critical because editorial work alone is not enough to sustain a career in photography.

Ms. Greenberg said that in 2002 she shot Tom Cruise when he was wearing braces. She used Photoshop to remove the braces before submitting the photographs but the magazine asked her to put the braces back in.

“I was sad because I was like ‘now Tom Cruise is going to hate me,’ ” she said. Ms. Greenberg has not shot Mr. Cruise since then.

Who Can Improve on Nature? Magazine Editors [New York Times]

  • Dr Brown

    i’m going to go way out on a limb here and say that most people would like to look good in pictures. especially those photos seen by lots of other people.

    you speak about “conditioning” as if there is a conspiracy by the media to make readers feel bad. it’s exactly the opposite.

  • Jim

    “I was sad because I was like ‘now Tom Cruise is going to hate me”
    Wow, so that’s the thing this “photojournalist” was worried about? What was she shooting for, a high school paper? Sounds very unprofessional

  • Erick Watson

    There’s a difference between “looking good” and “looking better than you do”. I’m not going to get someone to photoshop abs on to me every time I get a picture with my shirt off, I’d rather a picture be a reflection of my self. There are good photographers out there that can make a person look great on even their worst day WITHOUT the use of photoshop. They are the truly skilled.

  • autumnbringer

    “Ms. Greenberg has not shot Mr. Cruise since then.”
    Losing a potential client in a business is a valid concern. If he doesn’t like her, he’d have the power to say that he doesn’t want her taking pictures of him again.