Side by side, it’s usually really easy to detect image manipulation, but when we only view the published content, it’s not always as evident. An article called “The Ethics of Digital Manipulation,” explains the author’s opinion of the right and wrong times to use image manipulation. Image manipulation is used wrongly on popular magazine covers to make many female models appear slimmer or taller.
|Image: Beauty Redefined|
Video: doveunitedstates on YouTubeAlthough not intentional, these images can cause some young women to engage in disordered eating to alter their appearance. For example, as outlined in a Huffington Post article named “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?” the American Medical Association has “announced it was taking a stand against image manipulation in advertising, stating that alterations made through processes like Photoshop can contribute to unrealistic body image expectations, eating disorders and other emotional problems.” I am glad that the AMA took a stand, because it’s very concerning that this issue is affecting so many people. Because digitally manipulated images are seen by many Americans every day, many women still feel as if they should aspire to look like these nonexistent women.
Some artists use image manipulation to their advantage - by using it to create impossible things, not people. For example, Filip Dujardin, who was featured in an article on Slate called "The Met Embraces Fakes," uses Photoshop to "build" architecture that, if you tried to build it in real life, it wouldn't actually stand. This allows him to make really interesting pictures.
|Image: Filip Dujardin|
Without image manipulation, artists such as Dujardin wouldn't be able to make art as they do. This is one of the pros of Photoshop. I am certain that this is an ethical way to manipulate photos digitally, as it is not deceitful to the audience because they know that he is using Photoshop. I'm happy that artists like him are able to have a career doing something definitely creative. Dujardin uses image manipulation in a friendly and creative way.
On the other hand, image manipulation can sometimes be unethical, but it's occasionally difficult to tell when it is. Jerry Lodriguss, a photographer, says that image manipulation “only becomes a problem, and a question of ethics, when the artist or photographer lies about his motivations, methods, and conclusions, and presents images with the purpose to intentionally deceive.” The misportrayal of models, and even news stories, does not help the consumer in any way. The only reason that tabloid magazines include Photoshopped images is to lead someone into believing that a certain event occurred, when really it could be two images stitched into one, like this image of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Instead of being “caught together,” this is actually two pictures, of Pitt and Jolie individually, stitched into one, so it appears that they are together. Things like this can be easily achieved using image manipulation. Editors at Fourandsix state in an article called “Photo Tampering throughout History” that “the picture of Pitt was taken in Anguilla, a Caribbean island, in January 2005. The picture of Jolie was taken in Virginia some time in 2004.” There was a small note to tell the reader that it was a composite image within the magazine, but I think that using the composite image in general is unethical. Although this is most likely for the sole purpose of increasing sales, the reader is not properly informed of the manipulation of the image. It is possible that people who manipulate images are aiming to mislead the public. Also, as previously mentioned, many people can feel as if what they are seeing every day and being pressured to appear as is humanly impossible. Many producers of media misuse image manipulation. Although there are certainly benefits to the use of digital image manipulation, many of which are often overlooked, many magazines apply it incorrectly and use it to make female models unattainably flawless.
Image manipulation is most widely known as being used for two general purposes in today’s society - to fix images through methods such as cropping and adjusting saturation, and adjusting photos of models digitally before they are published in the media. Most people, including myself, agree that the first purpose is morally acceptable while the latter is not. Making models appear thinner can have serious effects on consumers, such as low self-esteem and eating disorders. Also, it is not professional for major magazine companies to misinform their readers on a regular basis. I believe that magazines should not use digitally altered images on their covers, as it is untruthful. Hopefully, magazines and the general public will be able to find a happy medium between misreporting and not being able to alter images digitally whatsoever.
Conclusion, updated 5/28/14
After completing my blog and reading and replying to the comments of others, I can definitely say that I've learned a lot. On the topic of image manipulation, I learned numerous ways to combat unjust use of it. On blogging in general, others' comments have helped me learn how you constructive criticism and giving other people different points of view to consider can be so helpful. The argument that I constructed at the beginning of my research - that image manipulation is okay to use when it is correcting photography mistakes such as red-eye, cropping, etc., but immoral when it is used, for example, to make a model thinner - did not change throughout the rest of my research and writing. However, hearing other opinions did help me gain a better feel of how others felt about my topic. In my opinion, my argument was thorough enough to engage my readers. Also, it was deep enough so that I was able to expand on it a lot. I believe that my topic is related to digital citizenship because it relates to what is right and what is wrong when it comes to using a program such as Photoshop to alter an image. After I posted my article, two readers replied with additional articles to read. In order to reply to Reading them allowed me to realize how much sharing your opinion with others can help them accumulate more evidence as to why they feel the way they do, but they did not change my opinion on my topic. One of the comments that I mentioned earlier in my conclusion about ways to discourage magazines from using Photoshopped pictures in their publications, gave me a clearer perspective on my topic because it made me realize that our society can help make a change to large corporations. In addition to this, it allows for people to gain a better perspective and not be so judgmental towards differing opinions.