Manila, Philippines

Photo Editing: Any Virgin Pictures in Print Ads?

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Was traversing along EDSA again via MRT and I was fortunate to stand on a good spot at the front of the third MRT coach, where I can see both sides of EDSA clearly in a wide-screen, in broad daylight. So I said to myself, finally I get to see EDSA again, both sides of it, with all its going-ons, busyness, morning rush, clutter and print-ads (primarily billboards). And it dawned to me, how many pictures and photos are out there in EDSA, on display, that are untouched by editing, sort of real, a virgin picture? (Don’t ask me whose billboard prompted to me reflect on this!)

We have gone through a lot in photography, imaging and picture printing and developing. Before we just point and shoot and develop the films. That’s what I mean by untouched virgin pictures – never altered, never edited, no adjustments, no make-ups, all natural. But now, with all the photo editing softwares we have (I’m actually just familiar with Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Image Maker), are there still pictures out there, posted for public consumption and viewing that are real, untouched by these softwares?

Even the simple act of shooting and printing a picture goes through a process, and along the way these are touched by still what I consider as natural processes. The quality of the output will be determined by each step. 
1. First of course will be the quality of the subject, either the model or the scene and all the natural lighting and colors it has. 

2. Second will be the camera quality and the cameraman competency. Whether the camera is good in capturing actual colors involved and even the emotions contained within the subject. Further, how the cameraman captures it, at what angle and distance he wants it portrayed.

3. Third will be the printer quality and canvass quality, again how the colors are laid out in the canvass, whether it’s tarpaulin or plastic or paper. Whether the range of colors that can be printed remains loyal and close to how the subject looks like.
These 3 factors and steps are crucial and have a significant impact on how the real picture will look like on print.
You see in this process, at this day and age, we have inserted an extra step between steps 2 and 3. Photoediting. Step 2.5. Enhance the picture, brighten the colors, erase the flaws and imperfections, highlight certain spots, trim certain chunky parts, even patch and cover with something (or someone) else certain parts. For me this extra step has divirginized the picture, it is no longer the original real picture that was captured.

What’s the big fuss on edited pictures anyway? I look at it this way. If I were a girl, I want to be considered beautiful even without the sexy graceful outfit, without the make-up, without all the accessories, enhancements and blings. Just plain me with all my shortcomings and imperfections. Because that’s the real me. The most basic me. And being a guy, that’s what I would look for. Beautiful even without the add-ons. Now on print-ads, how many pictures are out there that are without add-ons? That are virgins?

We are made to spend and believe and admire ads with all these add-ons. Promises of beauty, great food, great items, great clothes and places and experiences by showing us edited divirginised pictures? So does this mean we are made to believe, we are lured by all the add-ons, and not the real basic pictures anymore? Then we have to be careful and discerning as consumers.
How many printed ads out there display real virgin unedited pictures? Just plain point-shoot-print? I don’t think there’s a lot nowadays, if any at all. Of course, the competition drives this as well, since photo editing at least makes your picture at par with the rest. We consider this as an improvement. Why will you advertise pictures out there that are not of best quality? Or showing imperfections and flaws right? That is a big no no in marketing and advertising. At the back of our minds we all know that there is no perfect product or service. But still, we want ads to pose products and services as flawless and perfect.


And that best quality is achieved not via steps 1, 2 or 3 but via step 2.5? Being the cost-efficient and powerful step?

PS. Maybe in Facebook there are still pictures displayed that were not edited, point-shoot-upload. Perfectly pure and imperfect. But beware, there are some clever ones who still take the effort to edit and enhance pictures before they upload it on FB! Since pictures are in a way a sort of advertising oneself to the public. How about in Twitter? Anyway, was just thinking…
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