I sit here with microphone in hand. I was about to record a tutorial showing how to use the Liquify Tool in Photoshop. But then I stopped. I paused. And I decided rather than teach you how to use it, after all you can Google Liquify Tutorial, that I wanted to better understand how photographers feel about using it.
The Liquify Tool can be used for dozens of things, not just people pictures. For portrait photographers it is most frequently used to do retouching. The liquify tool can change the shape of the eyes, the nose, the lips and other facial features. It can also be used to slightly or drastically alter body size and shape. Next time you look at a fashion magazine, know that what you see is not likely what was photographed. Longer legs, slimmer thighs, bigger or lifted breasts, leaner arms, hour-glass figures, smaller waists, fuller lips, wider eyes, more defined cheek bones, bump-free noses…. and so much more seen in magazines is courtesy of the liquify tool.
So the question of the day, “Is it right or wrong?” Should magazines make bodies and faces that are more pleasing to the eyes? Or by doing that are they creating unrealistic ideals and a society of poor body image, self-esteem and self-confidence?
And to take this a step further, “should we as photographers liquify, alter, reshape, or slim our customers for their portraits?” Do we help or hurt them if we instantly make them lose that extra 15-20 pounds in Photoshop?
And once you make up your mind, then think about other retouching, such as skin? We can smooth skin in Photoshop, reduce wrinkles, make blemishes disappear, reduce bags under the eyes and so much more… Do you feel as photographers that it is our job to retouch customers so that they are happy with themselves? Should we leave skin, body shape and size, and overall appearance alone? Or does it “just depend?”
We all want to look good. But who defines what looks good? Magazines? Photographers? Society?
I would love your thoughts and input in the comment section below. Please also share this article with friends so they can “weigh” in. I am curious what a sampling of people have to say.
And for fun, here I am, liquified in Northern Michigan.