On Retouching

I am not a glamour photographer. When people see your photos and then meet you in real life, they will say “Yay! You are exactly who I thought you would be, and I liked you before I even met you!”

They will even see the glamorous you, if that’s what our goal was.

If, however, you would like to be retouched beyond recognition so that when people meet you they are confused, please I am literally begging you not to hire me.

Can I do that kind of retouching? Yes.

Will I do that kind of retouching? No.

I do retouching, but your friends will still recognize you.

Sometimes I might be sitting at a restaurant or coffee shop and I see girl take a selfie, look at her camera, frown, try again, frown, tip her chin up more, try again, frown, try again with some duck face, smile triumphantly, poke a few words into her phone with her thumbs, run it through a filter, and send it off as her avatar—and go back to looking generally unfulfilled. (See “Living Through the Avatar” for this full story.)

I see people (and often talk to people) who are going through life while trying as hard as possible to be invisible in a world where visibility rules, in many ways. Maybe they’re even trying to start a business or grow a business and remain invisible. (That’s super hard. I tried it.) If “being seen” equals “being judged as not enough” well, then invisible doesn’t sound so bad.

Likewise, I work with people for whom “being seen” equals danger and trauma and pain, and certainly the decision to “be invisible” is a survival mechanism.

For the record, with enough armor, someone might be very visible and still not be seen at all. What you see is the 21st Century Avatar. The “media-ready” avatar.

Please. Keep sending me the women who show up shaking, or crying. Keep sending me the women who begin their session by listing the ten things they hate—HATE—about themselves. Keep sending me the traumatized and the abused. Keep sending me the ones who say “I look ugly when I don’t smile” as well as the ones who say “I look ugly when I do smile.” Keep sending me the women who say that their beautiful days are well behind them. Send me the ones who say they hate cameras, photographers, and being photographed. Send me the triggered, the angry, and the skeptical. Send them all to me. That’s why I’m here.

But please know beforehand…my goal is to show you how beautiful you are in real life, not to chase you deeper into the avatar.

THAT, I won’t do.

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