Can You Photoshop That?

wedding guest and pillars

All worship the great god Photoshop for Photoshop is amazing, awe inspiring, mind blowing, limitless, jaw droppingly powerful and all embracing. He is also a purveyor of lies, a twister and perverter of reality, a shameless peddler of shallow tools used to manipulate perception and pander to every self-serving whim.

Technologically, the difference between working on an image in a traditional darkroom and working in Photoshop is similar to going from travelling on a horse and cart to careering around in a Ferrari Testarossa. Yes, there’s a quaint charm to trundling along in the cart and a certain romantic nostalgia but, in terms of getting from A to B the Ferarri is light years away.

……….Look at me, I own a Ferrari Testarossa I’m irresistible and invincible!! (not…)

In the early days……

When Photographers first got our hands on Photoshop we were like kids in a supermarket sized and rather sickly sweetshop. Boy, did we all make sure you knew that we had it! Colours became madly over saturated, weird filters and effects were all over the place and selective colouring (vomit!) became all the rage. Wow, how grossly garish and disgustingly tasteless these “innovations” look today. I pity anyone who got married back then and has a wedding album full of pictures “Photoshopped” by an over zealous photographer back from around the time of the turn of the century.

Harmless stuff maybe but Photoshop has gone on to be the facilitator of a much more sinister and damaging problem. Pick up a magazine from the 1980’s and you will see photographs of faces with blemishes, moles, marks and other irregularities. There will be hairs out of place, lumps and bumps and odd bits of “reality” that today are removed and “corrected” or, as it’s commonly phrased “airbrushed” out.

The pursuit of perfection

Fast forward to today and with Photoshop’s help, we have become accustomed to seeing images of “perfect” people. People with flawless skin, small noses, tiny waists and thin legs. Plastic people who have been manufactured to look like someone else’s view of what they should look like.

It frankly makes me feel sick.

Particularly as I know first hand, with three teenage daughters, how powerful these “perfect” images are and how detrimentally damaging they can be to the self-esteem. I loath the falseness, the clanging emptiness of the promise of perfection and the vacuous sentiments behind it all.

So, can I photoshop that?

No, it’s against every fibre of my moral being.

Ok, well, not quite. I have used Photoshop (or it’s close cousin Lightroom) on every single one of the thousands of wedding pictures I have created since 2003. But, the point is that hopefully, nobody will ever have noticed.


Well, because I aim to produce images that are the very best of what actually was in front of me at each wedding. The pictures aren’t my idea of what the wedding should look like but they are a record which tells the story of what the wedding was actually like, or more exactly, they are a record of the very best of the day.

I have no interest in changing reality into what I think it should be. I want to create a visual representation that has authenticity and integrity. I’m not a liar or a fabricator of half truths. I don’t play on words or give you falsehoods, my photography has a depth and honesty that’s worlds apart from smoothed the out skin tones and “perfect” pictures of the Photoshop lie.

The only thing I do is make sure that the colours are beautiful. I very subtly work of the grading of tones and light to give each image a subtle three-dimensional quality. Most importantly each image should look like the very best of what was actually there at the wedding.

A gentleman’s secret

I use a graphics pen to work in Photoshop and, within seconds, and with the flick of my nib I can nip and tuck, reduce wrinkles, make eyes twinkle a little more, whiten teeth, reduce weight, make hair look glossy and perform myriad of other visual miracles.

If I had ever done any of these abominably fake things to any of my images I would have done them with such deftness and subtlety of touch that the result would only have been subconsciously appreciated by the viewer.

No one, ever in the last 13 years has ever noticed or commented upon any Photoshopping of my images. Whether I have ever “helped out” any of my clients with Photoshop or not is a gentlemen’s secret and one which it would be both vulgar and unprofessional to divulge.

Let it be said that all of my clients, in their own individual ways, are simply wonderful and perfect.

What do you think about “airbrushing” or “photoshopping” images. Should you have a say in what’s done or what’s not? Is it better not to know if your images have been Photoshopped or is it morally wrong to alter reality? I would love to know what you think – leave me a comment below!

If you are planning your wedding and looking for a morally responsible photographer who doesn’t drive a Ferarri Testaroassa then GET IN TOUCH – I would love to hear from you. You can also download a copy of my detailed client guide “Planning Your Wedding Photography – Everything You Need to Know” by clicking the image below – enjoy!

Cambridge wedding photography client guide

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