Why New Technology for Retouching Photos Leads to Ethical Questions Recent years have shown the increasing practice of using retouching in commercial ads and marketing campaigns. Great professional retouchers, such as PhotoRetouchingServices and many others, can make visuals of the company and its products as attractive and appealing as possible.
Expert retouchers nowadays have a lot of software and other brand-new tools to make their job easier. The technology has advanced and such basic software for improving images as Photoshop does not surprise anyone. Let’s think together whether it’s ethical enough to use photo retouching in business and personal promotion.
Pros and Cons of Using New Technology for Retouching Photos
Therefore, is it correct to use retouching in this way? Or is it a fake? The dilemma is widely debatable nowadays, and photographers, photojournalists and web designers haven’t come to a certain conclusion. Whose arguments are stronger – those ones’ who state that there is nothing bad in retouching photos and images to promote brands or those people’s considerations who believe that any marketing campaign should be honest and straightforward, and show things as they are to their potential customers? Or, probably, there is something in-between, some golden medium which can unite both approaches and let brands follow the aesthetics of their own without breaking the social rules.
If you still haven’t decided on your opinion, let’s consider the pros and cons of retouching photos in relation to some ethical questions.
Pros of Using Retouching Photos Ethically
If a retoucher doesn’t pretend to be a professor from ‘Frankenstein’ composing bodies and product images from different parts, which rather relates to photo editing than to retouching, everything seems acceptable.
Let’s regard the most obvious advantages of retouching.
Removing Random Defects
The defects may appear because the lens of a camera was set improperly, or the situation can turn out to be unexpected, for example, the model for your campaign has got a bad allergy and is covered with spots. Though, you have already rented a studio, hired a photographer and paid for that all. You are unlikely to find a new model for this date or postpone shooting. In this case, using retouching will help remove these temporary model’s defects and you and your clients will enjoy perfect images.
Raising Confidence Is Essential
Photo retouching has grown all over social media nowadays. Why? Because it allows to raise personal confidence of respectability of a business and brand. The retouching apps, for example, Facetune, are available to everyone and they make the entire process much easier.
There is nothing bad in trying to hide make-up or hair defects, problems with clothing and cosmetics and whatnot. If the perfect state of these things in everyday life is normal, why should attempts to hide the temporary imperfections in the photos be unethical?
Another thing here is that influencers and celebrities who improve their image in this way should inform their audiences about it.
A Means for Artistic Expression
A lot of photographers and designers like to play with retouching techniques and software to express their creativity and talents. These experiments are quite relevant for personal photos and accounts in social media. However, they are completely inappropriate for retailing and media campaigns. Even the best online marketing practices will be considered irrelevant if a lot of retouching has been involved in their visuals.
If used for stock photography platforms, creative portfolios and personal accounts, too much retouching, though, does not influence anything so you can just boost your creativity by using that.
Why Retouching Photos Has Negative Impacts (Cons)
The most persuasive argument against using photo retouching and editing with the help of state-of-the-art software is that such means make the entire campaign a fake. Is it really so?
Going Authentic Is a Great Privilege
Authenticity of images is the thing valued most of all nowadays. It is the most powerful photography trend that allows for winning hearts of potential users and selling more products and services. Perfect visual marketing materials are no longer the key for boosting conversions and sales. People can detect photoshopped files nowadays even without being professional photographers. So, they do not trust the brand at all.
The most obvious example of this trend is the fashion industry. There have been many cases when the entire brand has been boycotted for providing unrealistic images, there are special websites which are meant for fighting Photoshop in marketing campaigns. And the designer Sarah Krasley has even made an attempt to create the Retouchers Accord to ensure authenticity of images. That is why more and more celebrities participating in fashion marketing campaigns refuse retouching to enhance the brand’s trustworthiness.
How to Be Honest?
The main reason why photo retouching evokes many ethical and moral issues. Is that using the special software is regarded as an attempt to deceive potential clients. The development of artificial intelligence (AI) nowadays provides unlimited opportunities for that. Though, communicating false images has never been honest. The company or individual using that seems lying to their audience.
For example, let’s consider the situation where you are buying some clothes online. You have seen their perfect images and are looking forward to receiving your purchase. However, when it is delivered, it does not meet your requirements and expectations at all. The overall look and quality are far from the same you saw in the pictures. As a result, you feel upset and deceived as a customer. Of course, you decide to return the purchase and get your money back. However, the bad impression remains with you for a long time.
Such situations are quite common. They should make brands and online retailers refuse photo retouching because everyone knows that honesty is the best policy. No one wants to lose the reputation and waste all marketing efforts.
Why Should You Be Responsible?
The strongest argument against photo retouching is the responsibility at the face of customers. Even if your brand has thousands of subscribers and followers, it does not mean that you can risk your reputation in this way. Every company or individual should be responsible for all messages they communicate to their users.
The most distracting effects of retouching misuse relate to rising anxiety and depression in young people. The wrong messages from brands and influencers make them feel that something is completely wrong with them. Young girls can get exhausted by endless diets. In addition, young men start using steroids to improve their imperfect bodies. If they are not successful in their attempts but get a bunch of health issues instead, they feel frustrated and deceived.
Being responsible for communicating certain images. Moreover, companies and brands should inform their customers that they have used retouching. And their images should be rather seen as artistic pieces.
The heated discussion on using or non-using photo retouching in marketing campaigns is going on. No matter what compromise it can end in, the biggest consideration here is to be about consequences for younger generations.
If you are a creative individual, the problem of using or refusing retouching is your personal matter. Nevertheless, for big brands, companies and influencers, it is food for thought. Their audiences and even photographers and retouchers should not suffer from the negative ethical outcomes of image editing and retouching overuse.