Why I don’t want to waste time Photoshopping your portrait

Yesterday, I found myself taking some portrait pictures for some corporate types at a Professional Development day. Nothing out of the ordinary, I raise my camera to my eye, someone walks in front of the lens, I tell a terrible joke or reference pop culture and cross my fingers and toes that I get a nice natural laugh, then I snap a pic or two.

Nine out of ten times I do get that nice laugh, probably because my jokes are so bad that they are laughable, but yesterday was really interesting.

I was taking the photographs of nineteen women, all involved at the executive level of a big corporation, whether in high-level roles, or assisting those in high-level roles. These women were gatekeepers, decision makers, people who could probably throw their scolding hot mocha-soy-lattes into someone’s face just because they forgot to ask for double foam and still keep their jobs.

Now, no scolding hot mocha-soy-lattes were thrown, because these were a group of awesome, fun, down-to-earth people. I was really impressed with their camaraderie in a traditional corporate environment because lets face it, the traditional corporate environment can cause people to be… not so nice.

Anyway, back to my story. I raised my camera, ready to snap away.

“Hope you’ve got some vaseline on that lens!” was one comment.

“Can you slim down my cheeks?” asked another

“Wow, I look really Asian” said another. She was Asian.

“Can you photoshop me!” said about five of the nineteen.

I honestly was taken aback. These were nineteen powerful, hard working, career driven women who all had something to say, something negative, about their appearance.

These comments were said in jest and as a joke by these lovely ladies, but if half the group made a comment about this, are they really joking?

Now, this isn’t a revelation to me. Generally, people say they don’t like their photos (not from me, I mean in general, I’m not a crap photographer, geez…).

However, I feel that until we get used to the fact that we look how we look, we’re never going to be truly happy. Do I think I look like the next Calvin Klein model myself? Nope. Nor do I want to (although I’m happy to pull the ‘Blue Steel’ look at request).

So why do I raise this point at all? Because the comments these ladies were making of themselves, are similar to ones that I say about myself in my own head. “Who’s that pudgy double chinned donut staring back at me in the mirror”, I often think.

My point is, I didn’t realise that probably everyone has some kind of body or beauty issue with themselves, and what does that say about the kind of image that we are trying to strive toward as a society?

So today I say that this pudgy double chinned donut with rapidly greying hair is getting better at being myself, because that’s all I can be, so why complain about how I look? It’s how I look!

To the ladies I photographed, you are all beautiful, smart, funny and awesome. And no, I will not be photoshopping your photos, for exactly that reason.