Retouching continues to be a topic of debate and a catalyst for consumer backlash now more than ever. From a 14-year-old girl mounting a campaign to get Seventeen and Teen Vogue to show “real” unaltered images of teenagers to limbs getting chopped off models right and left, those fantasy images we’ve been looking at for years are under closer scrutiny lately.
You can’t escape the fact that retouchers–those mysterious, behind-the-scenes gurus who erase zits and add tits–have their hands all over every single image we see these days, whether it’s a fashion editorial or a beauty ad. And their work very often makes the image memorable, be it good or bad. But they aren’t usually credited in an editorial along with the stylist and photographer, and they don’t even want to discuss their work unless it’s under a veil of anonymity. On Friday BuzzFeed Shift posted a great tell-all written by a retoucher and, well, people were touchy about it. A sampling of comments from our readers after we posted an excerpt:
Tedrien Nicholas: Interesting. But also, known by anyone with half a brain. However, it is great for a retoucher to talk about this.
Danielle Darwin: Surprising? No. Next.
No one in this day and age will claim to be surprised that photoshopping is rampant, so why can’t/won’t retouchers and the industry talk about it more openly? What exactly happens in that mysterious post-production space, and why do things (or limbs) seem to be going awry with greater frequency?
With the debate over retouching getting louder, our own anonymous retoucher, who has years of commercial and high fashion experience, chimed in to enlighten us about why retouchers prefer to stay undercover (hint: so the photographer can get the credit) and why Photoshop fails are happening with greater frequency.