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It’s really incredible just how quickly news travels, and in particular, bad news. Even more incredible is that there are individuals and companies who may feel physical isolation or local geographical boundary lines are the parameters wherein our activities travel. There really aren’t many, if any borders anymore, as evidenced by anyone who’s done something stupid anywhere, and had the event reported on everywhere else.

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Photoshop has a particular knack for helping companies make the news for the wrong reasons. Most recently, UK based Success Photography that specializes in graduation photos, has found itself in hot water after complaints about some of their post production services; ‘digital slimming’ for £9.95; ‘Digital Complexion & Smile Enhancement’ for £7.95. According to their site,

The traditional graduation gown is a mark of respect and achievement. However, it can be bulky and unflattering. With advanced digital technology, we can reduce the gown’s appearance, making it more fitting to your shape.

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While the complexion and smile enhancement options, which remove blemishes and brighten/whiten smiles, are along the same vein of edits, it’s perhaps little surprise that the slimming is what has been getting the most attention. The attention, of course, hasn’t been good. A number of students whose Universities, etc are clients of Success Photography have spoken out on Twitter against the options. Some calling it a sad snapshot of society, and others simply seem to be surprised.

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There hasn’t been much of a response from the company itself other than to back their words, and ensure that the slimming only refers to the gown, and not the person.

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Thoughts

I really don’t see why anyone is that surprised. Maybe that’s ‘jaded’ speak from someone who is sort of on the forefront of this type of news, but it seems that news does get distributed around and most people know there’s a lot more editing that goes on than they previously thought. That a company would seek to make more money by giving people a more idealized version of themselves isn’t in the least bit shocking. Do I agree with it? I’m not sure, but I’m also unsure they should be chastised for it.

I will say, however, that there is some concern on my end that the company may be too reliant on post processing, and their defensive tweet stating how it’s only the gown that’s slimmed seems bogus. Even if that was the case, I would ask how they know and work with the dimensions of the person under that gown, since it’s also that person’s shape that affects how the garment falls.

Before Photoshop, and I’m not strictly longing for those days, but you had to do things before the photo was taken to achieve a look you want, and that would include pinning a garment for a more flattering drape, having the right make-up to cover blemishes, and lighting that achieves the look wanted. I would say some of this would be better done this way still.

Sources: BBC, Twitter