Cmd+M for Magic

Author: Nicola Tegart

A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and as a graphic designer I’ve been on the tail end of some pretty hair-raising briefs, most of which involved Photoshop.

It seems the media has created some kind of misconception that Photoshop is a magic wand that can turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage and roll off into the design sunset.

A client once asked me to remove a guy’s shirt in a photo to make him look “more sexy”.

I needed to explain that current camera technology does not create photos in ‘layers’. And no, Photoshop cannot remove clothing from a model’s photo to reveal the body underneath, and if it did, it would probably be illegal.

Photoshop is a software program designed to modify and enhance existing photos, and it can do lots of amazing things, but it does have its limitations.

For example, I recently read about a couple that went to a studio to have their engagement photos taken. When the photos came back, the couple was extremely disappointed, because in all of the shots they were wearing tracksuit pants

“But that’s what you wore to the shoot,” The photographer explained. “I asked you on the day whether you wanted to change into something more appropriate and you said no.”

The bride-to-be went on to explain that she didn’t expect the photographer to leave the tracksuit pants in the actual photos, and that he should have ‘Photo-shopped’ better clothing onto them!

Folks, I’m sorry to say, that this is not something Photoshop was really designed to do. Unless a photographer or designer has a huge budget and weeks to spend on reworking, they should not be expected to dress their talent using a computer.

Sure we can remove the odd blemish, change some colours, cut out shapes and even (if lots of time is allowed) combine multiple images into one.

But if you want a photo of a golden carriage, may I please suggest that you at least start with a carriage, and use the pumpkin for making a nice hearty soup.


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