What makes a photo (or a person) real?

There is an old expression that “cameras don’t lie”. The camera is an unthinking, objective machine that simply records what is before it. Thus, the photograph it produces must be true – right? Wrong!

Anyone even vaguely familiar with Adobe® Photoshop® knows photos can be “faked” or “Photoshopped.” And faking photos has been done long before Photoshop was even a gleam in Adobe’s eye, as some photo hoaxes date back to the beginning of photography in 1840!

And of course modern photos are subject to being Photoshopped. In fact it is becoming quite common, even by “reputable” publications. This photo supposedly of Sarah Palin in a stars n stripes bikini toting a rifle made the rounds not long ago, and was debunked by Snopes.com.

Actually I love Photoshop. In my Photoshop edited photo, note the smoother skin, more texture in her dress, the softened background and the darkened edges in my bridal portrait of Yomara Steen – after Photoshop on the right. 

Check out the inspiring Photoshop work by the amazingly talented photo artists at http://www.worth1000.com/.

But what about “straight” photos that haven’t been Photoshopped. Are they true and accurate? Well, yes, and no.

Some photo purists say that a photo should never be cropped but should be displayed “full frame”. And that a 50mm lens is the “best” lens to use for photo accuracy since is best simulates the human range of vision. What do you say? Are all black and white photos fake because the real world is in color?

What is included and what is excluded from a photo can certainly skew the viewers perception of the “reality” depicted in the photo. A favorite Facebook cartoon depicts this well.

Bringing this down to a personal level, I’ve cringed at times at the statement, “I wish my real self was as cool as my online persona.” Ouch! I suppose many of us try to put our best foot forward and portray ourselves in the best light possible. We want to be “liked” figuratively (and literally on our Facebook fan pages). When someone LIKES my page http://www.facebook.com/maupinphoto, I feel more valuable and appreciated. The view we have of a person may be skewed somewhat like the cat photo above. So what is outside the borders of the photo may tell more than what is in the photo. Here’s another fat cat you may recognize, but the photo doesn’t show that he’s almost 80 pounds overweight. Creative cropping? Of course.

My social media coach, Jenna Ryan, encourages me to be transparent – to show the “real me.” That’s a scary thought. I must confess that I want people to see the best version of “me.” Maybe if people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me as much. But, the bottom line for me is that I want to be the best that God has planned for me to be. I am reminded of a favorite expression that I try to live by above all else:
“Character is who you are when no-one is watching.” So, how real are you online? Are you too cool for words? What do you think?

Have a great week, be cool, and be yourself!

Check out my Facebook page and share it if you “like”.