April 26, 2007

Why Would You Want A Representative Image? [7:59 am]

Hey, it works in music; why not in photography? Looking Perfect, One Pixel at a Time

Professional photographers have relied on clever hands and sophisticated software to turn a good picture into something that stands out. Now, Web sites are selling professional retouching services. For $20 to $200 or more, anyone can get a tighter stomach, smoother skin and brighter teeth — at least in an image. In addition, a wide variety of programs make it possible for the average computer user to fix basic problems.

[...] Some companies are trying to automate the process. Among them is Anthropics Technology, which makes a software program called PortraitProfessional (selling for $39.95) that gives the user about 80 ways to increase the “beauty” of a subject with algorithms that automatically shift and reshape the parts of a face.

[...] But with such a program, he said, “its power to subtly alter appearance also raises some interesting moral questions.” He has received e-mail messages that pointedly asked, “Who made you the gods of beauty?”

[...] Reputable news organizations have strict rules forbidding photographers or editors from using such tools to alter images.

But when it comes to family matters or simple vanity, the ethical equation is different.

“Most pictures are about memories,” Mr. Berend said. “They’re to be looked at years later. When you show your kids your wedding picture, it’s nice that they’re nice. Harsh reality is not always what people want.”

After all, aren’t we all the stars of our own movies?

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