Creative license is something I always heard about in my literature & art classes in school. I loved the idea of the freedom that comes along with being an artist. You can mold a story or piece of art into whatever you need it to be, whether you’re defying reality or playing safely within the lines of what’s physically possible. With respect to my own creative license, one thing I made a decision about early on was to aim for natural airbrushing when editing photos of humans. Today I’m going to share why I made that choice.
I want to say up front that I totally take advantage of the airbrush wand in my editing software! I smooth out wrinkles here and there or dry skin on a newborn, touch up dark under eye circles, and use the Spot Removal tool to take out a blemish (you’re welcome!). I’ve got your back! And I want you to be presented at your best. I’m definitely not against airbrushing full stop; I am for restraint, and that’s why as a rule, I prefer the look of more natural airbrushing.
My point of view as a photographer comes from wanting to see beauty in the world around me. I love highlighting the inherent beauty of everything from inanimate objects to nature to human beings. There’s beauty in your freckles, your scars, the color & texture of your skin, the curve of your cheeks, and your laugh lines. If those things are taken away, the story of who you are is incomplete.
I think of it in relation to a childhood memory: My neighbor & I were playing dress up with some old makeup my mom had given me. I caked on foundation as a base layer before slathering on blush, eye shadow, and lipstick. At the end of the day, I took a long look in the mirror to examine my made-up face. I realized the foundation had covered my freckles & made me appear to have smooth, clear skin. It was a good experiment to satisfy the part of me that wondered what I would look like without freckles, but I realized after that – I really liked my freckles! I didn’t look like myself without them. From then on, I’ve never worn makeup that’s covered my freckles. No foundation for this girl!
I look at intense airbrushing the same way. Theoretically, perfect skin is a goal. It might be flattering to look at yourself with no wrinkles or texture to your skin. To see the ideal come to life before your eyes. But that isn’t real. No one really looks like that! To wipe away the texture of your child’s skin or erase all of your hard earned wrinkles or the freckles that charm everyone you know is to take away a piece of your story. Doing so would not be in line with my point of view as an artist. There is beauty there and that’s why I strive for the look created through natural airbrushing.