Beauty in the Age of Photoshop

I taught a class to a group of teenage girls this week. It was about how what we are sold as women are packaging for a product. Which would you buy, a bottle of product with a beautiful box around it, or a damaged and wrinkled box? 

I've wanted to teach this class for a long time. When I grew up, I had a wall of photos of models. In that day they were all blonde and tan and skinny. Each an every one of them was something I would never be. Well. At least I have a good personality! 

I am a big supporter of photoshop. I love spending the time to make something amazing. But I feel it's important for young women (and men) to know that even though the product says, "If only you had enough time and money, YOU could look like this," isn't true. The beauty we see in magazines and ads is unattainable... even for the actual model in the photo!

In the class, I showed before and after photos, but what really seemed to get everyone's attention is the actual breakdown of every layer in a photo and what it does. I was fortunate to be allowed to use a photo of Charlotte, who is beautiful to begin with....and as I showed how I put on the makeup...they eyelashes, evened out the symmetry that we all 'suffer' from... changed the shape of the eyes, hair and demonstrate that we are all perfect, even though the camera and mirrors don't always show it.

I ended talking about our self-talk. How we were ALL princesses when we were children. And how we learned the way to put ourselves down. That we, as women, tend to say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend. 

I talked about how to change that narrative...and how your value is like the $20 bill that can be crumpled and imperfect, but still worth $20. Hearing a girl yell out, "OH!" as she figured out the analogy was the perfect ending to the class.

I will definitely do this again!

Dodge and Burn

Photographers have been retouching their photos since the early ages of photography. It seems that "in camera" doesn't often reflect your vision. I find that people are more beautiful than the camera allows. Light doesn't always draw the eye where it can discover the gem. Where eyes are shadowed by the brow in camera, the eye sees the colour and the texture. Through dodging and burning, the eyes can become that mirror to the soul...or they can become cloaked in more darkness to create a deeper mystery.

It began for me in my little darkroom in the little tiny bathroom many years ago. Tape and garbage bags covered all the possible light leaks. I used wire and paper to create lightness and darkness and bring out the beauty within a photo. Now, using digital means, the dodging and burning of the past becomes even more important and controlled.

Learning how to properly dodge and burn a person was much harder than I thought. I am a hairdresser and makeup should be easy enough. But I over-did so much. I changed the face too much. Who knew that lightening and darkening parts could completely change a face shape?  Straighten a crooked nose, lighten up the shadows beneath the eyes. Where do the natural highlights go? Where do the shadows need to be?

I have spent hours upon hours working on this. It has changed the way I see light and makeup. 

Why aren't there better YouTube videos demonstrating this?