Archive for April, 2008

April 17, 2008

The Art of Pregnancy Photography

© PhotoHand | Image Editing

“Never before has the demand for images of women who are pregnant been greater.” – Jennifer George, Photographer, Author

Let’s admit many of us in the PhotoHand office were quite puzzled when we started receiving orders to design pregnancy/maternity albums. I think we did a good job though. On the right is a sample of how we glamorized the pregnancy moment for a couple through photo retouching techniques.

And today I came across a press release announcing the launch of a book titled The Art of Pregnancy Photography.

In this book, author Jennifer George explores maternity photography from a conceptual and artistic point of view. Readers are encouraged to select a meaningful location for the session, what props and fabrics enhance the images, how to pose the subject, the composition of the portrait, the use of light and digital imaging, and the importance of the relationship that is forged with the client.

The Art of Pregnancy PhotographyPhotographers looking for a new genre to increase their studio’s revenue would be wise to consider adding maternity to their studio’s repertoire. “Never before has the demand for images of women who are pregnant been greater”. Magazines are filled with photos of celebrities proudly showing off their pregnant figures, and women everywhere want to document their beauty during pregnancy. Also, the digital revolution has made capturing beautiful, painterly images easier and less time consuming than ever before. The subject’s skin tone and texture can be easily digitally enhanced, and special software programs can be used to impart a wide variety of polished, classic, artistic effects.”

“Working with pregnant women to create beautiful portraits is indubitably satisfying, but it has its financial merits, too. The relationship you form with your client during her pregnancy can, and should, lead to a lifelong client relationship (you can photograph her growing family) and many referrals.”

The book can be purchased online >>

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April 16, 2008

Digital cameras focus on revised reality

Digital cameras focus on revised reality
By Candace Lombardi
Staff Writer, CNET

Published: August 29, 2006

Want to look thinner? Taller? Tanner? Don’t worry, there’s a camera for all that.

Today’s cameras will let you do more than adjust the flash; they’ll let you adjust reality. Photo-adjusting features that once required a PC and special know-how are now allowing consumers to alter a photo as soon as it’s snapped.

Some new Hewlett-Packard cameras include a feature that makes subjects look thinner, while another mode makes facial lines and pores virtually disappear. A “skin tone” feature on some Olympus models can give consumers a leisure-class tan. Other manufacturers offer modes to make the colors of the world richer as you capture them. Using these new in-camera tools, consumers can even crop out ex-boyfriends, or put a virtual frame around a new one.

Most digital cameras to date have had tools that remove red-eye from photos or lighten darkened images because of a poor flash. But that editing corrects a deficiency in the photographer’s skills, or the camera itself, not the subject.

With new tools, average people can create their own “pictures that lie” at the moment of capture, without any trace of the real image that was seen with the naked eye.

“People in the legal world are now concerned about whether photos can be accepted as evidence anymore, especially when you can alter the scene as you click the shutter,” said Peter Southwick, associate professor and director of the photojournalism program at Boston University. “And in the old days, there was an original, now there is no original. Photography as a tool for providing evidence, or as proof, may not exist anymore.”

The late media and culture critic Neil Postman had famous criteria for all technology, noted Anthony Spina, an adjunct professor of sociology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey who specializes in technology’s impact on society.

“(Postman) would ask: ‘What problem does this new technology answer?’ What problem is this solving? What’s the point? The problem is, obviously, that people want to look thinner,” Spina said.

Spina is referring to HP’s recently released in-camera editing feature that makes a person appear more svelte. The tool, called “Slimming Mode,” is part of HP’s Design Gallery software, which is included on some of its Photosmart M and R series cameras. It compresses the center of a photo and stretches the edges to fix the aspect ratio, said Linda Kennedy, a product manager for digital photography at HP.

The slimming tool doesn’t target people specifically; it will elongate any object centered in the photo, with three degrees of slimness. Like most digital cameras with editing tools, the changed photo is saved as a copy, and the original image remains on the camera intact.

Kennedy, one of the proponents of the feature while it was in development, said the idea came from the many people HP surveyed who said they hated having their picture taken. Kennedy also pointed to another use.

“We had a personal trainer wanting to use the camera as a motivational tactic for her clients,” she said. “Putting a good photo of the person on their refrigerator so they can say, ‘I do want to look like this,’ as opposed to the fat picture in a bathing suit,” can be inspiring.

HP isn’t the only manufacturer to offer this type of alteration feature. With the digital camera market maturing, manufacturers are using new features to entice customers to upgrade their current digicams. Canon, Kodak, HP, Nikon and Olympus all offer features that increase saturation, bumping up the richness of color “seen” by the camera. The photographer clicks and a sunset forever becomes more brilliant than it appeared in real life. Homegrown vegetables become more luscious.

“The consumer products and all these changes in photography, to me, are going to cause an undermining of people’s ability to believe a photograph, which is the foundation of photojournalism,” Southwick said. “Now that it is at the consumer level and people are going to see this, I am not sure on a fundamental level that they are ever going to believe a photo when they see it.”

With photo-editing packages widely available, Southwick said he has seen a change over the years in people’s attitude toward the integrity of photos. During lectures or speaking engagements, Southwick asks his audience how many people have heard of Photoshop. Ten or 12 people used to raise their hands, but now everybody does. Still, as big as Photoshop’s impact, Southwick said, in-camera photo-editing features will have an even greater effect on the way people relate to photography.

If pictures are indeed captured memories, as camera marketers would have consumers believe, these new features enable people to create a rosier vision of their personal history.

Spina pointed out that the creation of these tools and the fact that there is a market for them, speaks to the societal pressure to achieve physical perfection, as well as some people’s deceptiveness when creating online personas.

“It almost does contribute to people changing their identities, for whatever reasons they are motivated to do that,” Spina said. “Particularly, I can see it being used on a dating service. Now you can say the picture is current and still lie. But what I want to know is: What’s going to finally happen when you meet that person? Even if you are not using it for that, its only interest is to make you look better. But why would you take a picture of yourself and give it to people who know you if it doesn’t really look like you?”

But does it really matter? Photos have been “lying” for years in one respect or another. For example, photography from the 1940s, because it was black and white, gave a clean orderly appearance, with people in photos from that era appearing consistently crisp, with bright white teeth and seemingly matching outfits.

Spina said that he finds most technology of this nature as nothing more than entertainment. But he does see the trend leading to a larger philosophical question.

“Does social change drive technology change, or do changes in technology change social behavior?” he asked. “No one has won that debate…It just depends on where you fall on that continuum. My own personal bias is that technology advancements lead to social change.”

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April 16, 2008

Doctored cover photos add up to controversy

Doctored cover photos add up to controversy
By Donna Freydkin, special for USA TODAY

NEW YORK — If you noticed that Julia Roberts’ head is slapped on the wrong body on the cover of the new Redbook, you’ve got a sharp set of eyes.

In fact, Roberts and other Hollywood A-listers are fuming over altered magazine covers that look bizarre at best and disproportionately freakish at worst.

It’s known as airbrushing, or digital manipulation. At magazines, it’s standard practice to zap a zit, or brighten those baby blues. It’s even de rigueur for a supermodel like Tyra Banks, whose flawless printed perfection is at odds with her actual persona, and comes at a price.

“I disappoint people who meet me in person because I don’t look like me,” she says. “But the public is really hard on people in the industry and your image has to be perfect, and I openly admit that I have cellulite and I get that touched off.”

But, as those who do the tweaking point out, there’s a huge difference between eradicating stretch marks and cutting body parts from two separate photos and fusing them together into a composite shot, as Redbook did with Roberts in its July issue and a clipped-together Jennifer Aniston in June. Magazines run such doctored shots to give their covers an air of exclusivity and originality, even when celebs don’t grant the magazine an interview or sit for a photo shoot, as was the case with Aniston.

“It’s not immoral to retouch people, and everyone does it,” says Rolling Stone art director Andy Cowles. “The difficulty is when you mess with the truth, when it’s distorted and done to the point where you can see it and the person doesn’t look real.”

A spate of recent cover scandals proves his point.

The cover: On Redbook’s July cover, Roberts’ head comes from a paparazzi shot taken at the 2002 People’s Choice awards. Her body, meanwhile, is from the Notting Hill movie premiere four years ago.

The commotion: Although this cover was put to bed before the Aniston issue hit stands, it doesn’t bode well for a magazine that, like its competitors, relies on celebs such as Aniston, Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow to move major copies.

The conclusion: Publisher Hearst admits its mistake: “In an effort to make a cover that would pop on the newsstand, we combined two different shots of Julia Roberts. We acknowledge that we may have gone too far and hope that Ms. Roberts will accept our apology.” Roberts’ publicist, Marcy Engelman, simply says that “it’s a shame they didn’t use the body that went with the head, because it was a great Giorgio Armani pantsuit (that she wore to the People’s Choice awards).”

The cover: Redbook’s June issue promised the real scoop on Aniston’s relationship with hubby Brad Pitt. But the article was a clip job and the oddly flat cover photo’s exact origins still mystify Aniston’s publicist Stephen Huvane. He says he declined a Redbook cover because Aniston had a commitment to Harper’s Bazaar. Redbook informed him eight weeks before the cover hit that she’d be on it anyway.

The commotion: “It’s a combination of three pictures,” says Huvane of the photo. “If you’re going to do it, then at least match her head up to her body, and make the neck look like it belongs to her. I still can’t figure out which exact picture the face came from.” A Redbook spokeswoman refutes his statements: “The only things that were altered in the cover photo were the color of her shirt and the length of her hair, very slightly, in order to reflect her current length.”

The conclusion: Huvane says Aniston is mulling legal action. “She’s doesn’t like the blatant manipulation of her image,” he says.

The cover:Seventeen’s May issue featured Sarah Michelle Gellar, who granted the magazine an interview but not a photo shoot. So the magazine purchased a retouched photo from a syndication house, changed Gellar’s shirt color (from black to purple) — a standard practice at most magazines, including Rolling Stone— and somehow made her left hand look unnaturally long and misshapen.

The commotion: Gellar’s camp was displeased, stating that she looked like a paper cutout, not a real three-dimensional person, and that the printing job was poor quality.

The conclusion: The magazine sent Gellar a nice thank-you gift, and the furor has since died down.

The cover: When the February issue of British GQ hit stands, Kate Winslet’s legs looked stunningly slim. And no, the actress, who has publicly railed against Hollywood’s obsession with skinniness, hadn’t gone on a crash diet.

The commotion: Winslet said her gams had been thinned down by a third. “I was pretty proud of how my legs actually looked in the real picture,” said Winslet at the time. “I have Polaroids from the shoot and I thought I looked fine.”

The conclusion: Editor in chief Dylan Baker admitted that the photo had been altered, but said it was with Winslet’s approval. The actress is not outraged, but says she spoke out because “it just was important to me to let people know that digital retouching happens all the time. It’s probably happened to just about every other well-known actress on the face of the planet.”

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April 16, 2008

Fake Photos Alter Real Memories

Fake Photos Alter Real Memories

Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer 11/26/2007

In 2003, Los Angeles Times photographer Brian Walski caused an uproar when it was discovered that his picture of a British soldier yelling at fleeing residents in Iraq, published prominently by many U.S. newspapers, had been altered.
Walski had combined two snapshots taken moments apart of the British solider urging residents to take cover as Iraqi forces opened fire. This digital alteration is one of several in recent years to cast doubt on the old saying that the camera doesn’t lie.

Some researchers are worried that digitally altered photos could alter our perceptions and memories of public events.
To test what effect doctored photos might have, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Padua in Italy showed 299 people aged 19 to 84 either an actual photo or an altered photo of two historical events, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and the 2003 anti-war protest in Rome.
The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators.

When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.

Participants who viewed the doctored photos also said they were less inclined to take part in future protests, according to the study, detailed in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.

“It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it,” said UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study. “With the addition of a few little upsetting and arousing elements in the Rome protest photo, people remembered this peaceful protest as being more violent than it was, and as a society we have to figure how we can regulate this.”

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