Cosmetic Surgery in Scrapbooking

Scrapbookers around the world have embraced digital in some form or another. Most scrapbookers have been wooed over to digital cameras, if for no other reason than the scope to take hundreds of pictures at a time without running out of film. For traditional photographers there’s the option of scanning their photographs into their computer. And from there, the sky’s the limit!

Graphics editing software has opened up a universe of possibilities for how we present our photographs. I am a really poor photographer and rely heavily on improving and enhancing my photos in my graphic editing software (Photoshop Elements is my weapon of choice). I can adjust the lighting, improve the contrast and sharpen up a slightly out of focus picture. And I can also change the whole look of the photo.

Turning a coloured photo into a black and white one is a matter of seconds. Or maybe tinting it in a monochrome of green, or blue, or sepia. If the subject in the photo is facing the ‘wrong’ way for my scrapbook layout, I can easily flip the photo to change its directional focus. If I want to keep a photo in colour, but the shirt that someone is wearing clashes with the overall colour scheme of my scrapbook layouts, I can easily change the colour of the shirt.

And the other thing I can do is enhance the way someone looks in a photo.

Now this one’s an interesting topic I think. If you scrapbook to record it ‘like it was’ should you enhance the appearance of people in the photos? Should you be erasing those wrinkles and improving their smile? Is it right to erase that ugly zit on your nose that sprang up over night, just before your photo shoot? Are you creating a false picture for future generations?

Well before I throw it open to you guys to share your views on this topic, I’ll let you know what I think.

Human beings have never recorded it ‘like it was’ throughout history. Sorry, but it’s true. If you go to a portrait gallery and view the pictures there, are they an accurate representation of the visual image of the person? In the main I would say no. In the past, portrait painters were paid by their patron or client to paint their picture. If the client didn’t like it they wouldn’t pay for it (artists were very low on the social hierarchy). Well if you were an artist needing to keep a roof over your head and food on the table what would you do? You’d apply a level of ‘generosity’ to your painting. You’d be ‘gentle’ with some of the uglier characteristics, wouldn’t you? Have you ever wondered why none of those old portraits have scars, wrinkles or zits?

In fact King Henry VIII of England married Anne of Cleves on the strength of a portrait which he sent the court artist, Holbein, over to paint before he’d agree to the marriage. He got a nasty shock when he discovered that the beautiful woman in the painting and the lady who stepped off the ship weren’t quite the same. I must admit, I do feel comforted at the thought that his gout, ulcers and other ill health gave him other things to be grumpy about.

But whilst that is an extreme example of artistic licence, is it such a bad thing to ‘be a little gentle’ on ourselves when we enhance our photos? I’m of the opinion that, although doing an ‘Anne of Cleves’ is not the way to go (unless you’re deliberately making a joke photo), it’s OK to do some light cosmetic surgery on your photos.

I usually apply a touch of healing brush or a light strength clone stamp to soften some of those wrinkles. Not to remove them entirely, because then you look like a doll, but just to take the harshness out of them. And I see no reason in the world why I would leave a zit on my face when I can easily remove it with the clone stamp. A careful application of the dodge tool to whiten the teeth and the eyes and my cosmetic surgery is complete. It still looks like me, but it’s a slightly enhanced me. A bit like the difference between how you look with your ‘glamour’ face on and your every day face.

So what about you? Do you ‘enhance’ the way you look in your photos through some digital ‘cosmetic surgery’, or do you ‘tell it like it is’? And if you do touch up your photos, what techniques do you use?

Other related posts:

Have you ever done a scrapbook layout makeover?
What resolution should you print your layouts at?
Scrapbooking is not a race


10 Responses to Cosmetic Surgery in Scrapbooking

  1. Hannah August 29, 2007 at 7:39 pm #

    I don’t touch up my photos in terms of whitening teeth or removing skin imperfections. I do use the “I feel lucky” button in Picasa which simply makes the contrast, brightness, and colours more accurate. And of course I like to play with B&W, sepia, etc.
    I’m not enough of an expert to do much else, and I’m not sure I would want to anyway. I think that photos should be a fairly accurate representation of true life!

  2. Tink August 29, 2007 at 10:34 pm #

    Beats putting (or having someone else) on make-up everytime you want to take a picture. Isn’t that a bit of license there? So if it comes between putting on make-up or enhancing on the computer… I chose the computer everytime. That way I can get the candid shots I want and still fix the little imperfections along the way. Since I normally take photos of my kids and grands, I don’t usually have to make those adjustments. But my poor daughter, who is truly beautiful, breaks out once and month and looks like the mate of godzilla. I don’t think altering her appearance to show her in a better light is unreasonable, since she doesn’t alway look like that. Just my two cents worth :)

  3. karooch August 29, 2007 at 11:01 pm #

    There’s an ‘I feel lucky’ button on Picasa Hannah??? I don’t use it to upload photos, maybe that’s why I haven’t seen it. Sounds a bit like walking on the wild side.

    Seems fair to me too Tink. Can’t see any reason to leave things like zits there either.

  4. DreamScrapper August 29, 2007 at 11:57 pm #

    This article is really timely, Karen! I have recently been debating this with myself! I do touch up – not necessarily wrinkles but spots, blemishes, and I whiten teeth and give a bit of “pop” to eyes. I don’t shave off the pounds or “love handles” though I know how to do that. I kind of justify to myself that if anyone in the future looking at my albums wonders why everyone in them looks so “picture perfect” I have the original images to show them!

    With technology the way it is, I wish that there were some way to fix your own photo and then print out a “new you.” Sometime in the future, maybe?

  5. karooch August 30, 2007 at 9:43 pm #

    If only shaving off the love handles was really as easy as weilding a digital eraser Dreamscrapper.

  6. Antoinette September 1, 2007 at 6:57 am #

    I’m an expert in using every PSP tool I can to get rid of the fever blister at my daughter’s lip. Many cases of bad luck, as she always has one when there’s a photo-shoot.
    Other than enhancing pics contrast etc, I never add any changes.

  7. karooch September 1, 2007 at 6:50 pm #

    Yep.There’s no reason why you daughter should be immortalised with a blister on her lip Antoinette.

  8. Rachel September 3, 2007 at 11:47 pm #

    I totally use my healing brush in pse. I use it for everything from zits to scratches to oh did i forget to wash your face before taking your picture? No problem healing brush to the rescue! I don’t totally erase the wrinkles(im mean fine lines) that appeared once I turned thirty but once in a while it helps to soften them a bit. Hey its cheaper and less painful than botox!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love your site and stumbled it for ya!

  9. karooch September 4, 2007 at 12:18 pm #

    “its cheaper and less painful than botox!” What a fabulous line Rachel.

  10. Melissa September 15, 2007 at 1:47 pm #

    Great blog! Thanks. I recently had cosmetic surgery and by accident I stumbled upon I used them when looking for a surgeon.

    What I liked the most was that my profile remained anynomyous until I was ready to decide what to do. I received replies from four surgeons that met all the things I was looking for. I liked having that complete control without the sales pressure that some of these places can be known for.

    If you are going to go down the cosmetic surgery road…better to be safe than sorry. Check them out.