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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

A Photoshop Before and After

Photoshop “before and afters” usually aim to demonstrate the dramatic differences a skilled (or, erm, over-enthusiastic) editor can make to the look and feel of a picture. My goal here is different. I got a mail today from the beautiful subject of these pictures asking me not to retouch her portraits too much because she wants to know what she really looks like. She was a little afraid that if I made her look “too perfect”, then she might start to believe in the pictures. She might start to think she was more beautiful than she really is… I felt so sad reading that because, well, look at her… She is one of the most stunning people I know. I don’t know that I could make her more beautiful if I tried. But more importantly, I wish she would believe that she is as beautiful as she is. Because she really really is. Ridiculously beautiful, from the inside out.

The first picture is post-Lighroom. In Lightroom, I never ever do any selective adjustments. All I play with are contrast, exposure and tones. Nothing else. Her skin is really that good. Her teeth are really that white. And her smile is really that gorgeous. I was very tempted to stop there but I’m a sucker for playing around in Photoshop. Mostly, this involves me running actions and then deleting them again. This particular image did keep a few of the edits I ran (all from the Memory Lane action set: Perfection at 25%, Porcelain at 5% and Sheen at 5%). Just to be clear, these actions only affect general tones, contrast, exposure and sharpening. They do not give anyone bigger eyes or smaller arms or more defined abs. And neither do I. Because honestly, I don’t have the time or energy. The only selective editing that was used on this picture was my own frequency separation action which I used to smoothen out the skin a very teeny tiny amount and the dodge tool to very slightly lighten the irises. I also added a little gaussian blur to take the flowers poking out of the left side of her head further out of focus (they were a little distracting). I could have cloned them out but I really couldn’t be bothered. I’m pretty lazy really. That’s it. That’s all that happened to this picture. And now I put them side by side, I’m wondering if the “before” isn’t actually nicer than the “after”.

Conclusion: Adeline, you are beautiful. You don’t need to be Photoshopped. This is you. The real you. I wouldn’t change you even if I could. I hope you can look at this picture and believe me. Believe in yourself. You are beautiful and kind and talented and anyone who says otherwise is either mad or jealous. (Tu es belle. Tu n’as pas besoin que je te change avec Photoshop. Cette photo, c’est toi. Tout toi. Je ne te changerais pas même si je pouvais. J’espère que tu peux regarder cette photo et me croire. Croire en toi-même. Tu es très belle, tu es très gentille et tu es très douée. Si quelqu’un te dit le contraire, c’est qu’il est soit fou, soit jaloux.) So there!

 

30 August 2013 - 9:12 PM Adeline - Oh Cass merci pour ce message je me sens un peu nulle pour le coup! J'arrive tellement à me trouver chouette sur tes photos que j'étais persuadée que ça ne pouvait qu'être retouché... C'est être un très bon photographe quand ton sujet arrive à se trouver beau. Merci 1000 fois I LOVE YOU ma BELLE soeur

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