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Photography Question 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005

France floats law requiring Photoshopped images ca


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9/26/2009 7:51:08 PM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Ever look at a picture of a model and think, "Man, those lips can't be real. That skin can't be that smooth."

Of course you have. That's because they aren't. And it can't.

Sure looks good, though. That's because literally every commercial image published today goes through some level of Photoshop manipulation. Sometimes it's just a light tweaking of colors, but far more often it's a wholesale digital evisceration from top to bottom.

Now French lawmakers are beginning to worry that this rampant Photoshop abuse is causing problems for the psyches of its citizens, particularly teens who are especially susceptible to developing unhealthy body image obsessions.

The solution: Warning labels on manipulated images.

France's parliament is now kicking around the idea that any advertisement, press photo, art photograph, or piece of product packaging containing a digitally manipulated picture of a person would have to carry a disclaimer reading, "Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person." Failure to include the disclaimer would result in a $50,000-plus fine or up to half the cost of the ad campaign, potentially a huge threat.

The goal here is noble, to help prevent anorexia and bulimia and promote awareness of these devastating issues to consumers. But at some point, enforcing this sounds like it would become an outright nightmare, not that that's ever caused France to shy away from doing something. Creative types are notorious for their defiance of rules like this, and at some point, definitions start to get awfully blurry. Does tweaking a model's hair one shade blonder make for a retouching? Smoothing out wrinkles on a jacket? The questions are literally without end -- especially if the rules apply to "art photographs," which aren't designed to sell anything but which may in fact include copious digital transformations -- perhaps even to the point of unrecognizability. Is a warning label required in a case where a dog's head is dropped onto a lifeguard, say?

On the other hand, it would be truly refreshing to see ad directors and photographers adopt a more naturalistic stance toward photography and ad design, if not for the children then for the sake of art. In fact, for a few talented individuals, creating images without digital manipulation could become a way to stand out from a crowd which has long been focused on trying to make everything look absolutely perfect through any means necessary. Maybe call it "organic advertising?"

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9/26/2009 7:52:13 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  The world gets more ridiculous. Yes it would be refreshing to see more natural looking photographs, but because the amount of photoshop that is done doesn't really add anything to the purpose of the ads in the first place. And that is to get you to look at the ad, and maybe remember it. This idea of trying make it a law to have warning labels about photoshop is a knee jerk reaction to what is essentially a dumbing down and wimpification of everything. From the saturation of reality shows that, as long as they have one person who's constantly ranting and cussing everyone out, it will be good tv. To protecting everybody from everything.
This is really about girls, and if people actually tried to raise strong, confident girls, the idea of photoshop warning labels wouldn't be brought up. If people could maintain some basic perspective on life, they wouldn't be so easily brainwashed. Body image problems, eating disorders, can be traced back long before photoshop was even invented.
You'd need a two warning list for everything that they do for the sake of making an ad what they consider more appealing. And that can be using paint to make the milk look whiter in a cereal ad, to if they choose to use non-white races in an ad, they usually choose a light skin tone.
Trying to make this a law is an off shoot of another extreme like you here about the Dove ads where people acted like it was profound to use women who were what they called "real" and not anorexic. As if the only choices are anorexic or over weight.
And a photographer by the name of Louis Lesko, who has been doing involved in fashion photography for over 15 years talked in his blog about how fashion models and eating disorders is really a myth. And that in all the years he has worked, he's only come across one person who may, and he emphasized may, had some type of eating disorder. And that models are really just people who are naturally thin.
Will we need disclaimers for movies and tv shows about actors wearing make-up?

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9/26/2009 9:17:15 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  There are 3 key things for good photography: the camera, lighting and... photoshop - Tyra Banks

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9/27/2009 1:54:50 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  ...New song lyrics by Paul Simon:

"I got a N-i-i-kon camera
I love to fake a pho-o-o-tograph
So momma don't t-a-a-ke my PhotoShop a-way

Manipulations have become so commonplace that we just accept that EVERYTHING we see in advertizing has been re-touched.
Leave it the French to try to regulate it.
(I'll bet somewhere in Washington, some Congressman with visions of $$$ is licking his chops and saying, "Hmmm, this could be good!")

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9/27/2009 4:21:33 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  You're dating yourself with that tune Bob.

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9/27/2009 7:42:10 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  You know, I am starting to agree with some of the people around here about what they say about a lot of the photos here.
It's really is kind of one big plug-in demo. I've been looking thru some contest stuff and other stuff. Lots of fake silhouettes.
A comp for nature and landscape, while do what you like when you like, seems to miss the whole point. Like seeing the actual performances of the Chicago Crossroads Guitar Festival, or just get some people to sync on a stage to a soundtrack of it.

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9/29/2009 4:47:39 PM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I know what you mean. A few months back there was a winner in N&L that was one of my favorites that I had seen. When I found it is was a photoshop creation of three seperate photos, it lost all it's lustre in my eyes.

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9/30/2009 2:39:51 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  " lost all it's lustre in my eyes."

It is sad that it lost luster...Isn't it still the same image you looked at before?

I think the problem with any sort of lawmaking is that it will be impossible to define and enforce. My guess is that EVERY image gets some manipulation or one form or another -- even if it is just opening in Camera RAW (which is a manipulation). The law then would have to say that every image needs to come with a warning...and I guess, then, we are equating photography/art with cigarettes. In some sense it could be considered censorship.

And if the digital darkroom is considered 'manipulation', what of using filters? Lenses that cause distortion? Watch out what you hope for if you support the idea, your fish-eye lens may become illegal!

The discussion reminds me a bit of the episode with the PMRC in the 80s (click here).

Then there is the not-so-minor issue of proving the image was altered...Um, if people are doing good Photoshop work, it should be more-or-less impossible to tell.

Seems like a waste of energy to me...

Richard Lynch

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10/11/2009 8:51:05 AM

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