Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Truth . . . Everything Can't be 'Photoshopped'

Photoshop and I are good friends.  We still have much to learn about each other, and I imagine that we'll be working on our friendship for a long, long time.  There is so much that my pal, Photoshop, can do.  I ask a great deal.  We spend a lot of time together, either in my blue chair in the den or at the desk by the window.  We are close.

I spend so much time altering bits and pixels with my buddy, PS, I sometimes forget that life itself cannot be 'photoshopped'.  I guess it's like kids who spend so much time with video games or dumb television that they begin to actually think the world is one big game, that problems get worked out in thirty minutes, reality is what you want it to be and the people who have the most digital paraphernalia have the most control over their lives.

I find myself looking at the reality of a messy room or cluttered shelf in my home, and something in my subconscious imagine my right hand reaching for the actions and layers palettes on PS.  I actually have a few seconds of dreaming that a button can be pressed, an action chosen or a quick set of manipulated choices can be called upon to digitally 'fix' my real world problem.  It's strange, really.

As a photographer, I hear a lot of statements from clients about what they'd like me to do with PS, which make me believe that all of us have a little of that mentality.  We've been conditioned to think that there is a button somewhere to clear it all up, solve the problems, make things just the way we want them.  That makes me sort of sad.  We are certainly getting used to the quick fix, and I'm as guilty as the rest of the world.

We're also conditioned to imagine that however we are, it's not good enough.  However we look, we should look different.  We 'should' be more of something or less of something else.  I got this today from another photographer, and it made me laugh.  I've heard it all - the list rings true, for sure.

The list makes me laugh, and I don't really mind hearing all of that.  The parts where folks are asking to be magically changed into someone else, though, made me take notice.  They made me think.  

Why does everybody want to be something else?  Someone else?  What's the deal?  

Daily I hear folks asking if I can 'make' them skinny, 'make' them younger, or erase some of the years from their faces.  I understand, I do.  I've felt the same way.  It makes sense to me that we like to look our best, that erasing a few of the extra wrinkles around our eyes or smoothing out the skin on our faces is beneficial.  

I do that every day for folks, and I do it for myself.  I'm completely against altering a person's looks, but I'm always happy to smooth things out, to help them portray their best selves.  That's not the part that worries me.  

The worrying comes in when I see and hear (and imagine myself) that we need to press a button, or a combination of them, to make all of the messiness go away.  That's when I realize that we are leaning too much on this awesome photography tool or anything like it.  Do we actually want to let someone else make us completely different?  Is that what we want the young people around us to see?

I'm coming to an understanding that I want the young people I love to see me being happy with what and who I am.  I want them to see that because I want them to feel that way about themselves.  I don't want the next generation to waste all of this energy on pretending to be something else.  I'm figuring out that doing that wastes more time than I want to give.  

I want to have pictures of myself that I like.  I love being in the business of helping folks preserve moments and memories.  I want them to love their photos.  I want them to love the whole experience.  What I've learned so far, though, is that folks love the photos where they are being real and having fun.  

I'm afraid we've let technology help us stray too far from reality.  We've forgotten a lot.  We've lost sight of the fact that some wrinkles show us stories of life well-lived.  Sometimes those lines around our mouths let other people know how very much we have laughed.   And, hey, most of us aren't the size we see in our mind's eye.   

I'd like to offer this.  Often what the world sees is how very much we care, what an awesome time we were having or just how much we love the people beside us.  I'm all about clearing up skin, completely erasing a pesky zit or giving the sky a richer look.  But let's don't use the Photoshops in our lives to erase the parts that show that we are authentic, living, breathing and feeling human beings.  Let's don't push a button to make it all different.  

Do we really want to live in a video game?  Do we really want our children to grow up into adults who dislike their reality?  

I'll continue my daily love/hate relationship with Photoshop, and I'll keep being thankful that folks were smart enough to invent something so powerful.  I want to keep reminding myself, though, that much of the messiness of this life is the good stuff.  I want to give that to my children and to my friends.  

We're not perfect.  We know that.  And now we're all smart enough to know that the people who look perfect, really aren't!  Let's keep on with the tools that help, but I hope we don't let them take over.  

I want to look back at pictures of this time and see dirt on the hands that have worked in the soil, I want to see the lines on the forehead of the wisest I know, and I want to remind myself that photographs and memories are for remembering feelings, moments and realities.  Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not.  

I want to keep letting the photos tell their stories and leave a little of the stuff that makes us real people.
How about you?  

Found this from another friend right after I began thinking about writing this.  I think it was meant to be shared here today!

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