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Daily Diaries: A Former Photo Retoucher Reveals the Real Deal Behind Those Catalog Photos

Daily Diaries: A Former Photo Retoucher Reveals the Real Deal Behind Those Catalog Photos

Newsflash: Those Victoria’s Secret model photos you've been admiring and ogling for the longest time? They are all products of long hours of retouching, as it was long suspected.

In an interview with Refinery29, "Sarah," who formerly retouched images for several brands, including Victoria’s Secret, spilled the beans on practices that exist even before Photoshop became a term for photo retouching. Though “Sarah” still does retouching jobs (with limitations, that is), her tell-all gives readers a view of why she no longer does retouching as a full-time job, and why we should take a stand against retouching photos.

Here are a few excerpts “Sarah” shared about her full-on retouching gig:


1. Retouching begins on set. Prior to the magic of Photoshop, “Sarah” shared that a lot goes on behind a shoot, which include using hair extensions for the model's hair, and additional padding under swimsuits to further accentuate a model’s curves. As for post-processing, some skin details and even bra straps are erased from the original photo. To an extent, even the color of the garment is sometimes heavily altered as well.


2. Body swapping is involved. If retouching does not suffice, Sarah shares that they would go to the extent of swapping body parts from different shots in order for the final photo to be perfect. Common reasons for body swapping include fixing awkward gestures. It is because of this practice that Photoshop fails occur once in a while. In fact, several celebrties have made a stand against this practice.


3. It is an industry practice. In fact, “Sarah” pointed out that even photos from Instagram are not spared from retouching. Case in point? Most fitspiration photos. She notes that just like professional shoots, Instagram photos make use of the same posing and lighting tricks. The reason why retouching prevails up to now (and that hiring curvy models is not an option)? “They're just trying to sell you something,” she explains.

On the flip side, we must also note that sometimes Photoshop and some daya are needed because: The clothes are too big, the model's hair just isn't cooperating, it's raining outside but your shoot peg is a warm, sunny day—but, like with anything, if you OD it, then that's just so wrong. 

Media will always have the responsibility to present us the most accurate picture of reality, but advertisements and magazines also bring us images and stories we can aspire for, hence the need for impeccable images. At the end of the day, we also have the personal responsibility to not believe everything we see—after all, beauty will always be more than skin deep.


ALSO READ: Fitspiration: Jessy Mendiola, Pole Dancing Hottie




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