"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Beauty vs Portraiture

Jennifer Lawrence has just done a layout for Dior handbags and, upon seeing the photos, said that they were Photoshopped and didn't look like her. Here's the photos:
Since the beginning of art, images have been idealized; the challenge is to make the image as attractive as possible, while still being recognizable. People simply don't look like portraits - one starts by adjusting hair and make-up, choosing clothing and background, then adjusting lighting. The photographer then selects filters, f-stops and focus to best bring out what they want to see. With the advent of digital photography, it has been possible to make drastic alterations to photos after they've been taken and this latest advance has been under attack by those who claim it is unnatural. So it is - photography is not documentation but art and artifice is by definition not natural.

There are a number of researchers trying to discover what people find attractive. I've been involved in some of these studies, with somewhat embarrassing results. Here are three actual responses to my input: "On average, people chose the more feminine face 60% of the time. You chose the more feminine 100% of the time." "On average, people chose the lighter face 55% of the time. You chose the lighter face 100% of the time." "On average, people chose the redder image 55% of the time. You chose the redder image 100% of the time."

Studying my own preferences, I have created a digital "pretty filter." With it, I am able to alter images in one step to what I find more attractive, making several hundred small changes at a time. Here is a published photo of Lawrence and my altered image. I find the second to be more attractive, but I don't think I would recognize it as being her.

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