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Perfection

September 29, 2006

America is obsessed with perfection, perhaps the world is, but seeing as I live in America I think it is worse here.
I’m not sure I understand. Yesterday, in the mail, a brochure, photo-related, advertising an upcoming gathering of photographers. The level of retouching, airbrushing in this brochure was beyond anything I had ever seen. There was not an inch of skin, anywhere, untouched. There was nothing real. Not even the photos of the people speaking!
I have friends who photograph in the celebrity world, and the level of retouching goes so far beyond what most people realize they probably wouldn’t believe it even if they have seen what I have seen.
But with celebrity I get it. It’s not that I agree, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a more insecure lot on the planet. But I also think that world is so vicious and harsh that it leads to this insecurity. Everyone has to be perfect because if you show any sign of weakness you career could be over.
But with the rest of us lackies none of this makes sense.
Start with me. I’m 37, I’m aging. I’ve got lines, wrinkles, blotches, scars, barnacles, etc. That’s what happens people. Deal with it.
For me, I think people look better as they age.
A photographer I used to know used a photo from 1970 as his advertising image, what he projected to the public. You could see the faces of people, as they met him in real life, and they were stunned. You know they wanted to say, “Whoa, you are not the guy in the photo.”
He was my friend, but I still never said anything because it felt like a hidden world, something I should not enter into, something that he knew I knew, but that was not a subject open for discussion.
I think we are in a time now, at least as photographers, where we will look back in ten years, maybe twenty, maybe fifty and said, “Hey, cut them some slack, the computer was still relatively new, and they just didn’t know when to say when.”

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