There’s always something in the news about deception in the media. Usually it is in reference to photoshopping the images of models or celebrities to make them look skinnier. On rare occasions they have even photoshopped an image to make someone look larger. In both cases though, we all recognize that in small amounts photo editing can be okay, even encouraged. Think about it- do we really want to open up a high fashion magazine and see a blurry, dark photo? And what about all of the cool effects that photoshop can do?
Certainly some fall more into the artistic lines of photo editing and I bet that most of us can all agree that in those cases it’s perfectly fine.
While there currently isn’t much in the way of guidelines on what should and shouldn’t be allowed in photoshopping, a line, albeit faint, is starting to be drawn. Simply, from my perception, photoshopping can be said to have gone too far when an image is altered and drastically changed from the original. Under marginal or even moderate changes that are acceptable could be saturation, exposure, lighting, and erasing (in the case of flyaway hairs or unwanted background extras).
Drastically altered is when someone’s size is changed, their wrinkles/cellulite are erased to unrealistic proportions, and when the person in the image looks nothing like they did before.
While not everyone may agree with the list I just wrote out above (and just note that is in no way comprehensive, merely an example) I think we all have at one time or another at least thought about what should or should not be allowed when it comes to photoshopping people.
One thing that we may not have thought about is the photoshopping of food images. As social media users it is to be expected that a majority of us have used a photo editing software before. I personally use it for almost everything. My profile pictures, my family’s annual Christmas picture, vacation pictures, and yes, my food pictures. When I first started blogging I had no idea that photo editing software even existed, let alone that so many of the bloggers that I was reading were using it.
And if you look back to my first blog you will see that my photos were not just lackluster but very blurry and unappealing.
Of course I’ve learned a lot since then though, and while in no way am I a photo editing expert, I do know the basics of improving a picture.
Isn’t it amazing how much better food looks after a quick touch-up?
Quick, make a guess as to which side is the before and after! 😉
The same goes for a number of more recent pictures on this blog as well.
Now, it’s easy to believe the recipes on blogs just naturally look that clear and crisp. I’m not trying to discredit the hard work and time that is put into setting up the food shots and then the time it takes to edit all of those pictures. Really, what bloggers do is incredible. But, similar to the question posed with photoshopping models and celebrity images, where do we draw the line with editing our photos of food?
My take has always been that I will make the food look as best as I can without altering it. I don’t try to deceive anyone with serving size, color, shape, texture, etc. My editing consists of clearing up blurry photos, fixing saturation, and occasionally removing some annoying little crumbs.
I’ve always made honesty my policy and that’s why I am sharing these before/after examples to make my point.
I enjoy photo editing. I think it’s incredibly fun and exciting. Making my photos look nicer makes me feel like a “professional” almost, even though I have a long way to go.
What bothers me is those who try to deceive readers with their food pictures. I don’t have anyone specific in mind when I’m writing this out, but I know that there are those out there that set up their food, and edit their photos in a way that doesn’t really reflect the recipe that they are posting. Have you ever followed a recipe 100% and it turns out looking completely different from the promised picture? I have and boy is it frustrating!
I do know that this also happens a lot with food advertisements. Take for example McDonald’s hamburger. If you haven’t seen this video yet, you really should.
This article also gives some great picture representations of food deception in the media.
And since WIAW is all about food honesty I am linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons today so I can hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic.