Editorial - February-March 2012 - part 1 of 1

by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2012

Well that's the Convention done and dusted, what's next? Ah Yes Focus! We hope that those of you who visited the Convention went way refreshed, invigorated and recharged; and we hope those who look enviously at the pictures wish that they had made the effort to join the fun. Overall it was a great gig, many people, including your editor, rating it the best ever. The out and about shoots proved very popular and successful and the work of our talented teachers is featured later in the magazine. The seminars rooms were generally quite full and the Trade Floor was busy. Overall we signed up record numbers of new members, so welcome to you all, we hope you stay and grow your business with us. Next year the possibilities look even more enticing. The environs of the new venue are rich in photographic opportunity with the canal basin and Little Venice - the scouts have already been out!

Fat is not a Photoshop Issue!
A magazine in which Christina Lauder discusses retouchingis pertinent to a couple of debates that are still raging about on the internet, all based on the 'truth' of images. As ever the politically correct goons are having a field day. An American has reportedly been sanctioned for darkening down distracting background figures in a shot of two grieving fire fighters (even talk of losing his job). This is pretty rich considering what Murdoch and his cronies have been up to for the past however many years. Also, co-incidentally, the infamous Data Pool 3 has been brought before the courts this very day. What a treasure trove of wrong-doing that is likely to reveal, a few darkened background figures will pale to insignificance - why darken something down when you can do a whole-scale fictitious story-build. The process of picture integrity starts with our darkened onlookers and finishes with the Sunday Sport's Lancaster Bomber parked on the moon. Sanity probably lies someplace between these extremes. There seem to be conflicting forces at work. Why does the photographer get the blame for complying with somebody's wishes to make them look better. Sadly most people are over weight therefore most people like to be imaged a little thinner - requests to 'make me look fatter' are rare indeed. The population's over-weight problem is not of Photoshop's making; clever though it is Photoshop does not make burgers with high fat, high salt, high sugar, flavour-enhanced ingredients and a piece of meat that would feed some families for week. Taking photographers to task for showing skinny models is a convenient line of weakness to go at. And maybe the picture editors are compliant in the game too. They think Christmas has come early - 'Oh, a scandal about Cheryl Cole's diet, I tell you what let's splash her image across eight columns to get the message across', that will stop the page-turners won't it!

A major source of the problem is the cult of unearned celebrity. The 'wanna be fit but don't want to train', 'wanna be rich but don't want to graft for it', 'wanna be famous but don't have any talent', 'wanna be thin but don't want to give up burgers' pervades our society. Everything has to be condensed into a 140 character Tweet, that is about the limit - as for writing an essay, forget it! I am unsure why it needs a single point of focus on these issues (unless it is the picture editors conniving to make it seem that way, so they can dust off 'our Cheryl's' picture). The problem cannot be Photoshop's, it does not have a 'deliver a dose of anorexia' filter. What about the parenting that leads to poor self worth, the lack of time parent's spend with their children, the lack of a cork-board festooned with the child's early drawings and writings. There are always two sides. Sadly it is often the high-achievers who suffer most from these problems, it was once eloquently described by one commentator with the remark, 'Why is it always the cello grade-eights who have anorexia?' The pressure placed on our children today is out of all proportion to their needs, insane governments with fixations about testing and targets leading to near-infants pitching up in GP's surgeries with stress problems, the patients have taken over the asylum and it's about time we took it back again - and you can start be making me look a bit thinner please, anyway you choose (losing the red hair is a request a couple of decades too late, growing to a mere 5'3" is in the genes, deal with it!).

Because Photoshop is new and trendy it seems to carry the can for all imaging ills. What about picture choice in the first place? Want to make Neil Kinnock look foolish? - show a clip of him falling into the water on Chesil Beach at every opportunity. Want to reduce the gravitas of John Major, show him in grey Y-fronts, pushing peas around in Spitting Image. Want Cameron to look like a posh Tory? - watch him like a hawk and make sure he is imaged with somebody in a tailored dress and a big hat. Want Jack Straw to look foolish? - show him shaking hands with a misidentified Mugabe (where the hell where his advisors?). The list is endless and none of it has been anywhere near Photoshop, what is needed is a more grown up approach to what we are looking at - don't forget if Horace Bachelor really did know how to forecast pools results why would he want to tell anybody! (that's Keynsham spelt k, e , y, n, s, h, a, m for anybody who has forgotten, younger readers ask you grandparents!

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