Photoshop: How Much is Too Much?

Photoshop. We all use it. We all love it. It’s great for quickly modifying, retouching, and editing photos. Users can change colors within an image, modify the size and scale, put one picture within another, and retouch blemishes. Sounds harmless enough right? It’s no secret that the public and the entertainment industry exploit the use of this magical tool.

You probably heard the phrases “a picture is worth a thousand words” and “a photo cannot lie.” That used to be the case, but can we truly believe what photographs show us – especially in this day and age where photos can be manipulated? We saw the shift from realism to cubism, an avant-garde art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso, in art history. Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, and others created imaginative works of art that were quite unthinkable. One of the driving forces for this shift was the development of photography. Artists no longer had to capture realism in their paintings – cameras and photographers took care of that. Now that photographs can be altered, what can we turn to to show us objects (or people) for what they really are?

Back in the day, fans used to compliment stars when they met them in person. Fast forward to the present, more and more fans are disappointed when they see their favorite celebrities up close because they were shorter, chubbier, and darker than expected. Almost every single photo released has been meticulously examined and modified. Complexions are smoothened and cleared of any blemishes. It’s true that Korean celebrities have nice milky complexions, but photographs make it seem as if every female celeb was born yesterday with baby smooth skin. Since when were forty/fifty-something year olds without wrinkles natural?

Take a look at Jung Il Woo and Kim So Eun’s poster shots for the 12th JeonJu International Film Festival (JIFF). Don’t they look amazing together? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but those two did not photograph together for the images. They were photographed individually, and the images were edited and pasted together. Why? Apparently, the two actors were too awkward and uncomfortable with each other throughout the photo shoot. Personally, I thought Jung Il Woo and Kim So Eun were perfect for each other when I first saw the photos. After hearing this fact, I felt jipped. Additionally, Kim’s legs were increased by 30% to make her height and legs seem taller and longer. Rising stars Shin Se Kyung (“High Kick Through the Roof”) and Shin Min Ah (“My Girlfriend is a Gumiho”) have also been in the spotlight for over-altering their figures.

So what if celebrities become paler and slimmer through photo editing, it’s no biggy. However, a more serious problem lies in creating false images. Recently, Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon was a hot topic. A photo of her looking noticeably different with paler skin, bigger eyes, and a slimmer chin was circulating the internet sparking many controversial debates. Many believed she had gone under the knife before SM Entertainment revealed that the photo was taken a year back and had been photoshopped. Take a look at the photoshopped image of figure skater Kim Yuna. Her face was cropped into Anne Hathaway’s photo from the the 81st Academy Awards. If someone wasn’t aware of the original photograph, that person could have believed that the Olympic Champion walked the red carpet at one of Hollywood’s most prestigious events. While such pictures are pretty to look at, you can’t deny the fact that it’s quite scary. Imagine if anyone could cut and paste your face into any offensive photo creating something that isn’t true… 

This raises the question – is photoshopping ethical? And if it is considered ethical to a certain degree, how much is too much?

Below are some fun harmless examples:

Model Jessica Gomez looking like a normal human on the left

Actress Park Shin Hye looking a lot slimmer after the magic touch

Shin Se Kyung’s legs were not as long and thin as the jean ads showed

Actress Shin Min Ah looking not so slim

SNSD’s Hyoyeon’s photoshopped photo 

Can you spot what’s wrong with Nichkhun in the photo?