Statement on Retouching

Accede Magazine has been founded by professional photographer, Nancy Mac. This is her statement on Photoshop and Retouched Images.

As a photograpHER, I wish people would stop the crazy. Photoshop is not evil.

First of all, although I’m not a neurologist or scientist, I have observed that the human brain does not see you the way a camera does. The camera is cold and has no brain, no heart, and no soul. A human being has all of that. The human eyes that see you, including your own, see you in real time. They see you moving, laughing, crying, and living all the moments of your life. I believe the human brain puts that all together and identifies you. It smoothes flaws or just doesn't see them. Especially if the eyes that see you also love you.

Then, someone takes a snapshot of you and you think, "OH MY GOD! Do I really look like that? Look at my neck. My hair is dumb. My eyes squint up when I smile" or whatever. That’s not really you. It’s an instant of light with you in it. That instant is why we use photoshop. For good things.


This shot of a 12 year old girl is a case in point. She’s the daughter of a friend. Not a model. She had acne, was being bullied in school, and felt ugly and awkward. She’d traveled 8 hours to come visit and she was tired. She certainly didn’t see herself they way I did. I saw past the acne, past the pink shell necklace, past the yellow scruncie, and past her travel weary eyes and dehydrated skin.

I saw her. All of her. I gave her water and put make up, lighting, posing, and styling skill to work. Then, I finished in Photoshop. She saw herself as I saw her. A beautiful girl. Finally, she could see her own beauty in a way she didn’t even know existed.

It’s true, however, that some people have grossly misused retouching. So much that there is now a trend to label un-retouched photos or make up free snapshots as “more accurate.”

They aren’t. The models used in "un-retouched" commercial photos are shot in perfect lighting with a skilled hand tripping the camera's shutter. These models are selected because the light loves their face; the angles are outstanding. The camera only sees light and shadows. All professional models have faces that the camera sees very well. It's not about being "pretty." You are not ugly because you aren’t a model. Modeling is about light and shadow. That's why they’re models.

As for “make-up free” shots, in real life, your camera captures a speck of an instant of who you are and what you look like. That means… using cosmetics or not in the shot doesn’t give you a fair representation of your beauty or your life. It never will.

May I repeat. Un-retouched photos are not, and will never be, a fair representation of Beauty or of LIFE.

Before there was Photoshop or FaceTune in digital photography, there was Airbrush and Dark Room Manipulation in film photography. Photographers have always known the limits of their equipment. And that’s what it is. The limits of the equipment. It’s not your limitations. It’s not you.

So, please don't buy into this “retouch free” nonsense. It's marketing. They're trying to sell something. It's not about good photography. It's not about glamour. It's not about real life. It's cultural pandering and it does no real good, and worse, it isn't actually honest. Because the camera lies.

We use retouch to undo the lies told by a piece of heartless equipment that’s limited by light and split seconds. My camera has no heart and no soul, but I do and I see you with both.

That's my opinion on the topic.
Nancy Mac

At Accede Magazine: We will always use photoshop so that the people who come out of our camera match the person in our vision and in our heart. We will calm flyaway hairs, zap a zit, pluck an eyebrow, smooth a wrinkle, brighten an eye, and tame a bulge that escaped from the Spanx.

That's the formal public notice for Accede Magazine.