Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Photos never lie?
September 12, 2007 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Movie stars. What have they got that you haven't got? A professional retoucher. (via YesbutNobutYes)

(Click on Portfolio. Flash interface, click on the thumbnail and hover over the pop-up to see the unretouched photo. Clicking on the pop-up will make it go away.)
posted by Dave Faris (78 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think everyone knows this already. Also, the retouched versions won't show up for me at all in Firefox. Kind of interesting anyway... I guess...
posted by white light at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2007


I know folks that get very well paid to do this to photos of models in clothing catalogs... including one guy whose specialty is high end underwear.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:08 AM on September 12, 2007


It's pretty sad that some of the starlets had to be retouched to look healthier because they are two skinny.

It worked fine for me in Firefox.
posted by oddman at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2007


I thought the pics of the guys were interesting, usually you only see what they do to the ladies.
posted by zeoslap at 10:10 AM on September 12, 2007


Echoing oddman. Cameron Diaz, for example, had to have her thighs made larger to look good, because apparently in real life she has anorexic chicken legs. Look at the photo. It's damn weird to see the models get smaller rather than being larger in the "before" shot.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:13 AM on September 12, 2007


Some of the stars actually look better in the unretouched photos (Penelope Cruz, Cate Blanchett) or don't really need retouching at all (Halle Berry). Nicolette Sheridan, on the other hand, would look around 50 without help.
posted by brain_drain at 10:13 AM on September 12, 2007


People may already know this happens, but that really isn't the point. I found the portfolio examples interesting, especially considering I touch up my own photos. There are some examples in there where I thought the retouch was a nice correction for light or even makeup - other corrections seemed to go beyond mere retouching, and into recreation. To me there is an ethical line, and I haven't often seen a website with so many easy to use examples.

So, nice link.

Oh, and while I appreciate the warnings that a link doesn't work, or doesn't work in a specific browser, as that avoids confusion for other readers, please tell me people on MeFi are over the "it doesn't work in firefox/opera/whatever" complaint about web design.
posted by Muddler at 10:14 AM on September 12, 2007


The problem is all the retouched people look fake. Once you know what to look for it's pretty easy to tell. Perfect skin, no wrinkles = fake. I prefer people not to look like wax dumbies, these all look like the RealDoll version themselves.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:17 AM on September 12, 2007


So, can you do that stuff in Photoshop?
posted by PHINC at 10:20 AM on September 12, 2007


When I think about you, I retouch myself.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:21 AM on September 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


brain_drain, just what I wanted to say.
posted by Laotic at 10:21 AM on September 12, 2007


Unless you are the hot starlet's personal physician who can make that call, skinny does not equal unhealthy.
posted by wfc123 at 10:21 AM on September 12, 2007


So many of these are simply making up for poor lighting on the photographer's part. And they do look like RealDolls after retouching. They look like they're carved from butter and would melt if the photographer had any sort of light trained on them.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 10:24 AM on September 12, 2007


Previously
posted by DU at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2007


see also
posted by matteo at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2007


I hate that they retouch freckles out of existence.
posted by callmejay at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


Terminal Verbosity hits the nail on the head. Most of these people are actually beautiful in real life, but the photographs are miserable. Some even to the extent that makes me think that they have retouched the 'before' photos to make them look worse. Seriously. A-listers don't really get amateur photographers to do their shoots, so there's something fishy going on.

Also, I'm quite surprised that they are allowed to show these pictures to sell their product, surely one of the stars being used would have kicked a fuss...
posted by slimepuppy at 10:30 AM on September 12, 2007


one guy whose specialty is high end underwear

You mean... there really is an Official Panty Inspector?
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:34 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've been a professional retoucher and fixed a few of my own photos. Does that mean I get to be a movie star now?
posted by lekvar at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2007


And seconding Terminal Verbosity and slimepuppy. A lot of those "before" shots were retouched not because the model especially needed it, but the photographs were really bad. Out of focus, poorly lit, just bad. Is Photoshop giving photographers license to be lazy now?
posted by lekvar at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2007


MeFites don't need that. We have DaShiv.

With DaShiv. Without DaShiv (but with bonus Elvis)
posted by essexjan at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2007


I have a professional retoucher; his name is Jack Daniels and he hangs out with me on the weekends. Generally I trust his skills to make everyone around me look better.

You all should thank him.
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Argh, that's terrible what they did to Julia Stiles, they just flattened her out. They removed the muscles from her arm! Whuffo?

And the third girl, whoever she is, they did her no favors by shrinking her legs & ass... they turned sexy jeans into skinny jeans.
posted by Wood at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Surprise--everyone gets whiter! And how much longer until noses get buffed out of existence, like every other facial feature in these pics. And whoever that guy is in the bottom center of the portfolio page should sue...he's awesome looking in the before and hideous in the after pic.

I'm wondering if the next cosmetic fad will be LED-glowing contacts to match the whole 'children of the corn' eye thing going on here...
posted by troybob at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2007


Only one question: Why make everyone's irises brighter like that? The retouched photo of Cameron Diaz makes it look as though there's a floodlight inside her skull.
posted by aparrish at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2007


You know what else movie stars have that I haven't got? Personal assistants. I got dry cleaning that needs doing, yo.
posted by NationalKato at 11:02 AM on September 12, 2007


or 'village of the damned' eye thing, i guess
posted by troybob at 11:04 AM on September 12, 2007


I hate that they retouch freckles out of existence.

Agreed! Damn frecklists.

Apart from the first one, I have been looking at these by centring my mouse on the pictures as they loaded so I would see the before shots first. It's amazing how bad the After shots look when I did that.
posted by knapah at 11:09 AM on September 12, 2007


I don't know. I do a lot of these things in my own pictures. Color correction (my camera's color balance sucks), sharpening, bringing up highlights in eyes and hair, deemphasizing the background, occasionally removing a distracting feature that I didn't notice in the shot or couldn't do anything about at the time. And smoothing skin tones, especially. Of course, I don't shoot in a studio and rarely use any sort of artificial light at all, so I'm sort of at the mercy of the environment most of the time.

I don't really have any problem with any of these. They're techniques to make the subject look better and/or the shot conform better to what the photographer wanted.

troybob / aparrish: People look at the eyes in pictures first, last, and most of the time in between. Bright eyes make a picture seem more lively and the subject more engaged. Dark or unaccented eyes tend to be off-putting. Take a look at pictures of people, wherever you might find them. Virtually all of them will show a bright reflection in the eyes (called a "catchlight"), usually shone there on purpose by the photographer for reflection purposes.
posted by rusty at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2007


I like how they retouched the wall behind Justin Timberlake.
posted by ODiV at 11:14 AM on September 12, 2007


I have a professional retoucher; his name is Jack Daniels and he hangs out with me on the weekends. Generally I trust his skills to make everyone around me look better.

Thanks, now I've got a George Thoroughgood song running through my head...

Do you and your retoucher drink alone?
posted by thanotopsis at 11:20 AM on September 12, 2007


I really loathe the heavy amounts of retouching, partly because it creates an unnatural standard of beauty, but mostly because it creates lazy photographers. I mean, why think about such menial things as lighting or composition when you can simply fix it in Photoshop?
posted by backseatpilot at 11:25 AM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


odiv: I thought it looked like a simple contrast adjustment on the wall; not a full-blown retouch.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:25 AM on September 12, 2007


of course that raises the question of whether walls can beretouched too much, and if they start looking like RealWalls after a point.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


why think about such menial things as lighting or composition when you can simply fix it in Photoshop?

I used to groan every time the director on a film or commercial I was going to edit would say, "We'll fix it in post!" Laziness personified.
posted by NationalKato at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2007


None of them are in the least bit improved by the retouching, just made to look waxen, save for the wee girl from desperate housewives (5th from the left 2nd row). She's very blah for someone who continually brags about having superior genes compared to the rest of us :p
posted by zarah at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2007


Movie stars. What have they got that you haven't got? A professional retoucher.

You obviously don't know me very well.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:32 AM on September 12, 2007


heeraldo: Nah, there were definitely blemishes on that wall that were removed.
posted by ODiV at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2007


I really loathe the heavy amounts of retouching, partly because it creates an unnatural standard of beauty

One thing I've wondered : since retouched photos have pretty much taken over all media, how many people think that wrinkles or signs of age are relatively rare, and thus valuable? Besides, what is a 'natural' standard of beauty?

Personally, I tend to love crows' feet or other such things, but I can't seperate my love for them from the feeling that they indicate someone who's representing herself fairly - no makeup, nothing hidden.
posted by suckerpunch at 11:41 AM on September 12, 2007


Well, I feel better.
posted by blacklite at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2007


Wow. They felt the need to make Eva Longoria THINNER?
posted by papercake at 11:47 AM on September 12, 2007


I hate that they retouch freckles out of existence.

No shit! I don't know who the last girl is, but she is smoking hot in her untouched photo. The retouch looks like some sort of anime. And poor Brittany Murphy. I didn't even recognize her without the bags under her eyes that separate her from every other blonde starlet.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2007


papercake writes "Wow. They felt the need to make Eva Longoria THINNER?"

In parts, but they also felt the need to make her fatter in others. They reduced her waist, increased her legs, and increased her arms. Overall, weight probably didn't change.
posted by Bugbread at 11:53 AM on September 12, 2007


thanotopsis : Do you and your retoucher drink alone?

Well, other than his cobra snake necktie, yeah.
posted by quin at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2007


@slimepuppy: Well, this is the retoucher's portfolio, so he is going to put in the pictures with the most noticeable amount of retouching. I can't imagine him wanting to post the photos where all he needed to do was run the photo through Photoshop's auto-color correction.

I wouldn't be surprised if he retouched the before pictures to look worse, though.
posted by Weebot at 12:20 PM on September 12, 2007


Also, I'm pretty sure that the stars are contractually obligated to allow the retoucher to use their photos in his portfolio. Probably standard business practice.
posted by Weebot at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2007


They should negotiate better contract. You'd think that there would be a good ratio of retouchers to celebrities. Maybe that's not true.
posted by ODiV at 12:28 PM on September 12, 2007


Photography has never been solely about what comes out of the camera in the modern era.

Darkroom manipulation is as old as chemically developed photographs themselves.

The only difference now is that the darkroom is a computer running Photoshop.

Not having to worry quite so much about lighting and composition is what frees photographers to try to capture the subject, and then tweak some of the technical stuff later.

Composition is, without question, THE most important component of good photography, but few people think of cropping being any sort of transgression.

They used to use an actual airbrush to remove Farrrah Fawcett's wrinkles and bags, not just an icon labeled "airbrush".
posted by Ynoxas at 12:30 PM on September 12, 2007


Now I know who to blame for the blown-out highlights look. Easy with the levels, kid!
posted by chrominance at 12:31 PM on September 12, 2007


Now I can call Eva Longoria a 'no ass talent clown,' instead of the other way around.
posted by NationalKato at 12:31 PM on September 12, 2007


I'm sorry, but really this is not all that difficult. Half of these pics are just an over-indulgent use of the Smudge tool in Photoshop, maybe with a Stamp thrown in for good measure. I'd be much more impressed if they coudl do it the other way, take smooth plastic-skinned Hollywood types and make them look like human beings.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2007


I think it was the wall's bad side.

The third one in the bottom row is especially bad. The before's a little dark, but there is nuance and character in the photo that are completely missing in the retouch.

Some of the stars actually look better in the unretouched photos (Penelope Cruz, Cate Blanchett) or don't really need retouching at all (Halle Berry)

The Penelope Cruz one is strange. Let's make your hair wild and fun--but not too wild and fun! The loose curl on her forehead in the before picture is really cute, and the retouch is boring. If you switch back and forth between the two you can watch her right collerbone move about three inches back and forth.

On the plus side, they did make Halle Berry naked. On this minus side, this could mean that any naked pictures of Halle Berry might actually not be of the actual Halle Berry actually naked. I still believe, though.

Virtually all of them will show a bright reflection in the eyes (called a 'catchlight'), usually shone there on purpose by the photographer for reflection purposes.

Yeah, you can already see them in some of the before pictures (at least the first two in the top row).

Well, other than his cobra snake necktie, yeah.
What about one scotch and one beer?

posted by kirkaracha at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2007


Ynoxas: I agree with you. None of these retouches changed the composition, and fixing bad composition (unless it's very minor and you can get it with a small crop or a slight rotation) has always been pretty much impossible.

Griping about photographic manipulation always felt just like people griping about non-representational painting to me. Like the result of an essential misunderstanding of the medium.
posted by rusty at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2007


Their name sounds like "I WANX STUDIO"
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2007


Heh, they erased LeLo's trademark freckles. I didn't even recognize her after picture. And actually I'm not even sure if the it's Lindsay Lohan at all, now that I think about it.

Anyway, I actually think this is just some random website that downloaded 'before' pictures of celebrities (one was clearly cut out of a newspaper) as an example. I don't think these guys were hired by the actual celebs.
posted by delmoi at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2007


Actually, though I knew this rationally, this site was an eye-opener for me. Funny how we don't like pictures of ourselves and know we could use some retouching, but don't (or at least I don't) automatically assume that the pictures we see of celebs are retouched to that extent. I know there's a lot of airbrushing of skin, etc., but I had no idea they fooled around with the star's measurements that much.
posted by misha at 2:10 PM on September 12, 2007


Yeah, I agree this stuff does give an unnatural standard of beauty. The abs particularly-- it is almost impossible to get the small, toned waists that they create, perhaps actually impossible. Never mind the lack of wrinkles, frizz, cellulite and freckles.

I think it affects everyone unconsciously, leading to a sense of dissatisfaction that is insatiable in real life. Of course, we real life itself creates insatiable dissatisfaction, but I think this makes it worse.
posted by Maias at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2007


works fine in Firefox 2.0.0.6
posted by Lord Kinbote at 2:36 PM on September 12, 2007


It's more than airbrushing. For the second one from the right in the top row, I think they used Bondo. Just kind of spackled her whole undereye area in, smoothed it out, and added that weird babylike internal glow.
posted by bink at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2007


I have to agree with the prevailing sentiment: I like nearly all of the unretouched versions better. Most of the final versions look animated to me.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:49 PM on September 12, 2007


I think Howard Stern summed up my feelings on this sort of thing when he said "Man, I'd really like to sleep with whoever that girl is on the cover of the Kelly Clarkson album."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2007


I end up doing this sort of thing a lot for people who consider themselves to be celebrities but are really not celebrities (corporate types). Tightening chins, smoothing skin, straightening & whitening teeth, etc. - it's kind of like being a virtual mortician. Weirdest thing is when I get a chance to finally meet someone whose face I've retouched- it feels like we should know each other already.
posted by squalor at 4:47 PM on September 12, 2007


It's more than airbrushing. For the second one from the right in the top row, I think they used Bondo. Just kind of spackled her whole undereye area in, smoothed it out, and added that weird babylike internal glow.

I think that's Brittney Murphy, but damn near impossible to tell in the retouched photos. The girl's got goggly eyes, you can't tell it's her without them.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:47 PM on September 12, 2007


Maias writes "The abs particularly-- it is almost impossible to get the small, toned waists that they create, perhaps actually impossible."

No, I've seen some music videos (which are far less susceptible to retouching, what with the "24 pictures every second") featuring singers with lousy voices and amazing abs.
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on September 12, 2007


Holy hell, that is Brittney Murphy.

A quick narration of the last five minutes:

quin stands up and addresses his co-workers, "Anyone here know who Brittney Murphy is?" Several hands go up, I wave them over and point to the screen.

"Is that her?" Several seconds pass, there is some hesitation, "It kinda looks like her..."

I move the mouse so that can see the un-retouched photo, a general chorus of "whoa" is heard.


If you have modified the picture to the point where the very famous person is unidentifiable, you have failed.
posted by quin at 5:24 PM on September 12, 2007


> why think about such menial things as lighting or composition when you can simply fix it in Photoshop?

Well musicians always go "You can fix that in ProTools, right?"
posted by jfuller at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2007


I'll nth the sentiment that Halle, Cate, and Penelope--hell, fully half of those folks--look perfectly hot in "reality". It seems to me that there's a direct correlation with ubiquitous retouching and photographers simply being lazy. I'm far from a pro photgrapher and even I can notice the crap lighting in a lot of those shots.
posted by zardoz at 6:56 PM on September 12, 2007


No, I've seen some music videos (which are far less susceptible to retouching, what with the "24 pictures every second") featuring singers with lousy voices and amazing abs.

In one scene in the film "300", I'm sure I saw abs painted on his chest. Ok, ok, extra definition and highlights painted on in makeup.

At 24 pictures every second, you do the airbrushing before the pictures are taken :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:03 PM on September 12, 2007


I'd be much more impressed if they coudl do it the other way, take smooth plastic-skinned Hollywood types and make them look like human beings.

I feel a nearly irressistable urge to point out that the site didn't actual label which of the images were the retouched ones, and then pretend I'm shocked and amused that you mistook the plastic-skinned images for the "after" pics.

But I shall contain myself :)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:09 PM on September 12, 2007


I don't know who the last girl is...

Step into my office.
posted by dgaicun at 1:18 AM on September 13, 2007


The real Naomi Watts is so much prettier. Same with the real Cate Blanchett.

The worst thing about sites like this is that you can show them to girls you know over and over and they don't get any less insecure.
posted by redteam at 2:01 AM on September 13, 2007


I didn't even immediately recognize that the photos were of famous people - not sure if I should enjoy that fact, or if I should be concerned about my attention to detail. I'll take B for $500.

Also, the green/grey on black scheme makes me sad. And finally, google ads? Seriously...
posted by preparat at 4:53 AM on September 13, 2007


-harlequin- writes "In one scene in the film '300', I'm sure I saw abs painted on his chest. Ok, ok, extra definition and highlights painted on in makeup."

Yeah, sorry, shoulda clarified: I'm talking about the "no extra bulges female ab" look, not the "intentional extra bulges male ab" look. Adding abs with makeup is easy. Removing abs or muffin tops or the like is hard if not impossible. I figured since most of the pics were of females, Maias was saying that female abs like those pictured might not be possible, and I just meant that I suspect they are.

Actually, no, screw that, come to think of it, in my clubbing days I saw abs like that, on folks who were obviously not into applying ab makeup. So I know abs like that are possible.
posted by Bugbread at 5:15 AM on September 13, 2007


I'm NOT such an ugly duckling.

And I vote "yea" on freckles. They bestow a certain Celtic charm.
posted by bigskyguy at 8:22 AM on September 13, 2007


Who is the guy in the middle of the bottom row whose face bulges in and out? Tee hee.
posted by jfwlucy at 9:03 AM on September 13, 2007


Bug, I know the musculature is possible, but the waist/hip ratio is nearly unattainable or certainly only rarely attainable (and clearly, those celebs train compulsively and they *still* need retouching so it must be truly rare indeed).

My "body sculpt" teacher has been in some of those videos and she has amazing abs-- but those pictures give adult women the shape of idealized teenage girls.
posted by Maias at 1:22 PM on September 13, 2007


Yeah, sorry, more clarification time: I wasn't referring to the waist/hip ratio, just the "absolutely flat ab" thing. I'm guessing that it's an either-or thing. You can either have absolutely flat abs, but no...(can't remember the right English word for it)...waist-cinch, or you can have an hourglass figure, but with some bumpiness to your abs.
posted by Bugbread at 2:44 PM on September 13, 2007


callmejay writes "I hate that they retouch freckles out of existence."

Me too.

Wood writes "Argh, that's terrible what they did to Julia Stiles, they just flattened her out. They removed the muscles from her arm! Whuffo?"

And flattened her butt, what the heck is the matter with this guy.

rusty writes "None of these retouches changed the composition,"

Well Diaz's photo is changed from a shoulder forward shot to a square shot (equalized her bosom, brought her shoulder forward.) Which makes her arm weirdly disproportionate.
posted by Mitheral at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2007


« Older Armless Hunters...  |  The Age of Disaster Capitalism... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments