Workshop Wednesdays Vol.39

Workshop Wednesdays vol. 39

Don’t believe the magazines! Even if the article claims the subject has not been airbrushed – I guarantee there has been some degree of retouching. Photoshop is my favourite tool outside of my camera bag and studio, and if used effectively, can easily take an image to the next level. Even in the Dark Room days we would use filters to manipulate the contrast and dodge and burn techniques to enhance certain elements. So it’s not a new concept and certainly still an important part of the creative process. However, it’s when the magazines completely manipulate an image and present it as fact that creates distrust on one hand, and abnormal body image expectations on the other. Again, not a new issue… but it’s one that was brought to my attention this week and I thought I would share a few stories with you…

HP Tip 1

Imagine my horror, when looking through my traveling archives, I discovered that for some reason, I thought it necessary at the time, to retouch some of the wrinkles on this mans face. What was I thinking?! It was a new skill and one I chose to apply to all of my images. Now, 15 years later, I wish I could see his charismatic face just the way that it was. Tip – check yourself before using any skin blur tool – do you really need to remove those wrinkles that the subject has lived so hard to achieve?

Random Fact

“When we think of an image, we think of a photograph or landscape on a screen. We forget that tiny holes are enough to allow a projection of any given scene. Glass isn’t even needed.
The first projected image was through a Camera Obscura. This was a dark box with a tiny hole that let in light, and an upside view of the scene in front of the hole.
It is a literal translation from Latin, meaning Dark Room. The principle was first recorded by Mozi, a Chinese philosopher, between 470 to 391 BCE.
This is the idea behind the pinhole camera.”


In The News

Photo For Thought

Adele, Vogue

“Someone like…? The Grammy-winning singer with the powerhouse vocals stunned on the cover of Vogue’s March 2012 issue, but critics called out the fashion mag for slimming her down via Photoshop. They argued that the cover image of Adele was not true to her actual curvy figure.”


Iconic Photographer:

Harry Borden

“I’m more interested in pictures that have a humanity, and whilst they do tell us about the times we live in, it is always preferable if you can let the person, their personality, come through. I like that purity that comes from doing away with the frippery. If you have a good eye, you don’t need gimmicks.” ~Harry Borden

One of the original celebrity portraitists… “Borden might be a readily confessed schmooze (“when the occasion warrants it”) but you could hardly accuse him  of being anyones lapdog. “You really have to go into the shoot with the approach that you are as good a photographer as they are a writer, actor, musician or business person. If you go in there and start telling them what a big fan you are – no matter how tempting it may be in some instances to say precisely that – you are placing yourself at a distinct disadvantage”.

Borden is the eldest son of a New York-born Jewish adman who opted out of a successful career as a transatlantic art director to become a pig farmer in Devon with his English wife, a former ’60s television cookery show host. Growing up in rural  Tiverton, he was torn between forging a career in the arts or doing what every other British boy wants to do – represent his country in football. Eventually, photography won out.” 

~ Richard Waller: Black + White Photography Magazine Issue #43 June 2000

Spice Girls: Copyright Harry Borden

The above article from one of my favourite ever magazines inspired this weeks workshop… And even though it was published 19 years ago – I still found it interesting and relevant. Initially I was drawn to Borden’s work because of the casual way he captured celebrity. However, the Survivor series is absolutely captivating!

‘Survivor: A Portrait of the Survivors of the Holocaust’ by Harry Borden was published on Holocaust Memorial Day 2017.

“I have seen, as one can well imagine, many books on survivors.  This book however was different.  It was moving in a unique fashion and occupies a special place in my home.” Deborah Lipstadt

Martin Parr said, “something really to behold, a substantial project of some real depth and authority. By flicking through the pages you can sense the amount of research, patience and hard work that has been invested. The portraits, as always with Borden are simple, effective and very telling.”

Charlotte Cotton called it an “Astounding and an epic book” and Alain de Botton affirmed it, “A masterpiece and deeply moving.” 

“Images from this series were purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra acquired 6 prints for an exhibition about the aftermath of conflict.  ‘After the war’ opened on 5 October 2018.  In January 2018 some of the London portraits were exhibited at the London Jewish Museum and at Photo London, it was judged one of the 10 best photography books of the previous year by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation.”


Richard Harris: Copyright Harry Borden

Run DMC: Copyright Harry Borden

Bjork: Copyright Harry Borden

Radiohead Photograph Themselves: Copyright Harry Borden

“I stand tall and proud, My voice shouts in silence loud; I am a real person still, No one can break my spirit or will!” I am a star! Inge Auerbacher: Copyright Harry Borden

‘Survivor: A Portrait of the Survivors of the Holocaust’ by Harry Borden VIDEO PLEASE WATCH!!

Tip 2

What does it feel like to be airbrushed?

“Campaigners are calling for restrictions on the way magazines airbrush photos. Seeing your face and body transformed is an unnerving experience.

My guilty pleasure is fashion and gossip magazines. I will check out those unflattering bikini shots of celebrities and be amazed at how their “fat-busting diet” did such a great job on their abs in just six weeks. Or swoon over the flawless skin of that A-lister advertising the latest £10,000 handbag in just her pants and wonder, “Why doesn’t my skin/hair/teeth look like that?”

It’s no secret that advertisers and magazines use airbrushing to give their images an aspirational sheen. It’s been happening for years.

In 2008 it was reported that magazines could soon be banned from using airbrushed photographs of celebrities, such was the anxiety over teenage eating disorders.

It didn’t happen.”


Tip 3

Celebrate flaws! 

In my experience, everyone has at least one thing they are highly critical of when it comes to their appearance. We hear it all – look at my big teeth! I hate my hands, hide my chins! And I understand, I am exactly the same. But one thing I am trying very hard to be conscious of, is that it’s these so called “flaws” that make us all unique and therefore interesting. In the words of Groove Armada and Fat Boy Slim: “If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other”. I feel so strongly about this! I wish everyone would be a little bit kinder to themselves and say, you know what? This is me, I am flawed, and I am beautiful just the way I am. My beauty is about more than the wrinkles on my face or the number of chins I may have. It’s about my humanity and kindness and my whole life story that is behind my eyes if you care enough to see.

Story of the Week

If you have visited our new studio, you may have seen Amelie’s smily face (above) featured on our photo wall! Much to my delight, Amelie visited the studio again today, now a big grown up 2 year old, with a brand new baby sister, Elise! Along with Mum, Nonna and Lola, we were able to celebrate this very special milestone with portraits of three generations of beautiful, strong females. 

Best Wishes From HP!

Thank you for joining us again this week! We hope you have a fun and photo-filled week ahead! X

Photo Credit: Meg Speak captured a few fun photos of myself and Olivia when we had a small 7th birthday celebration on the weekend. Note the difference between the Cover Photo and the Celebrate Flaws photo. This is the kind of subtle editing that we often apply to studio portraits. Still very natural – we ‘soften’ rather than remove. I’m becoming more comfortable showing-off my lines as I get older, and even though I will still edit my photos lightly, I think it’s important to capture photos that actually look like ME as I am NOW. After all, this is as young as I’ll ever be!