Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Desiring a Cover Model Image

I recently stumbled upon the video above and felt inclined to give my humble opinion since it hits close to home; in my personal life and my photography business.

First of all, is not news that as women, in one way or the other, we tend to wish the body and image of a magazine cover model. This is subject of many, many articles, videos and even marketing (Dove, anyone?).

Well, here I am adding to the list. I agree. There's a reason why there are many before/after Photoshop retouching videos so that we get to see the reality of it. It is not real and therefore we shouldn't aim at it but all the contrary, be proud of what and who we are. 

As a photographer I want to add though that is not always the photographer who makes these changes and therefore we should not be pointed at when talking about who sets beauty standards. To make it more clear, when we are hired as photographers for a magazine, depending on the magazine, we might or might not have to do the retouching. When left to the photographer, there's a high chance we won't "plastic surgery" you on Photoshop, though there's always the exception to the rule. We are all individuals and artists with different perceptions; you'll find all kinds of tastes and preferences, just like in everything else. But most of the time (in the case of magazine covers for famous magazines), photographers provide the images, the magazine orders the retouching through freelance or in-house retouchers and ta-da! Transformation complete.

That's why is so important and sensitive matter for me and my team to not over do it in our sessions. It's actually harder than you might think to be in that middle point. When you're constantly preparing people for photos and creating the images, is easy to take it that step further without noticing. Many times I've had to stop my editing, and step away from my computer to refresh my view and find that I'm removing too much or polishing too much, so I have to undo a couple of things.

My team might do too much contouring to the point the whole face structure seems to change (remember that infamous photo of Kim Kardashian with a lot of bronze and corrector on her face?), so they're careful about that as well but polish enough as to not assume I'll "fix it all" in Photoshop. Some things need to be done on-site, it saves time. 

For us is about exalting the beauty we already see in you (inside) and on you (physical), not about changing you into someone you are not. 

Here's a list of what I usually do on Photoshop:

- Create a "mood" (general colouring of the image)
- Color saturation
- Sharpen eyes, mouth and hair
- Apply highlights and shadows to the hair and cheeks (these last 3 bullets have to be done always since once the images are transferred from camera to computer, they lose certain properties that have to be restored).
- Fix skin (because I'm sure you wouldn't want that blemish there, would you? A blemish doesn't define who you are, is just temporary).
- Polish skin (yes, I do it very subtle, because sometimes the makeup applied for photography can make the skin look dry and older than it really is. I bring it back to real but not too much as to make it look porcelain; after all, we all do have pores and wrinkles, the contrary is unnatural).
- Sometimes I'll remove undesired objects from the background or change the background all together but this doesn't affect the subject.

I NEVER chop or add pounds to anyone or make them look younger or older, taller or shorter. That's non-negotiable for me.

I remember once a client said: "but you'll make me thinner on photoshop, right?". My answer was "Why would I want to give you a confirmation that something is wrong with your body when there's nothing wrong with it? You look beautiful, you ARE beautiful. Trust me, you'll be happy when you see the photos". And indeed, she was. But most importantly, she was happy with her own self. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Why Aging IS Ok. I mean it.

Hair and Makeup by Kada Issa (Bombay Beauty Loft)

In modern times, we are thought that old is not good. You should avoid getting old at any expense. There's also multiple options to avoid looking old: beauty products, plastic surgeries, botox, facials, are just a few of an almost infinite pile of what's call now an industry. Yes, there's a trend now about being beautiful at 40, 50 and up but is fake! Yes it is. Look at the photos of celebrities stating "beautiful at (insert over 40 age here)". Do they look like they aged gracefully, froze in time or had surgery? Let's be honest here, these people are cheered on the fact that they STILL LOOK YOUNG at their age. 

But aging in the earlier civilizations and for many, many centuries, was considered a great deal. Age (wrinkles and grey hair) was considered equally proportional to wisdom. The older you would be, the more important you would become for the community. In ancient Israel for example, the elderly would seat at the city gates and people would come to them for guidance on solving situations, big or small, and to help on solving quarrels. Why? Because they had a lifetime experience to know better. They had lived what the younger ones haven't yet. People wanted to learn from them and they were respected.

At some point we were taught that aging was wrong and obsolete. And as women we bought and swallow the whole thing entirely. We buy beauty products to slow the pass of time, to erase the wrinkles, to hide our aging. I personally haven't bought into that completely. I DO use beauty products but more for caring for my skin than anything else. I'm 32. Yes, I'm still young and I might not be stressed out about wrinkles yet, but I honestly don't see them as a curse. It will eventually happen and I'm hoping to wear them all (and my grey hair) proudly instead of succumbing into the lies.

My great grandmother, my grandmother and my mom (for some of her time) fought/fight endlessly against aging. I would see them spending big lengths of time in front of their magnifying mirrors pulling strand by strand of grey hair off their scalps, spending lots of money on beauty products (specially the anti-wrinkles products) and let's not even count the hours at a hair salon dying their hair. My grandma even had a surgery to stretch the skin of her forehead so she could look younger (she thinks we didn't notice the whole thing but oh we sure did!). We all know better than to dare ask their age. After years of living under the same trend, my mom decided it was time to stop. She still dyes her hair (mostly to be playful with colours) but she leaves her grey strands out of it because she wants to show them. She doesn't see her wrinkles with worry but happiness (check out My Wrinkles "Dictionary" post) and she doesn't feel embarrassed anymore about her bifocal glasses when she wears them.

She is leading by example at our house and we're very happy to see this change. She's empowering herself through the beauty of her aging self. That's why my 50+ sessions are important to me; I want to empower mature women through the beauty God gave them and the beauty that has been drawn onto them by the wisdom learned through their experiences. 

I did this session of my mother because of that. Because I see beauty all over her and because (her knowing it or not) she brings light with her smile, everywhere she goes. I love you mami!

Hair and Makeup by Kada Issa (Bombay Beauty Loft)