Photoshop – the Good, Bad and Ugly

Summer is just around the corner which makes Instagram lovers rejoice! However, in this visually obsessed world, it’s important to remember what’s real and what isn’t, the same can be said about the photography industry as a whole.

I swear every week you hear about a celeb ‘photoshopping’ their Instagram and the world is shocked, but, are we that naive to act surprised? I mean you haven’t been able to look through a magazine in the two decades for an image of someone that’s not been manipulated in some way, even in the days of film, photographs were dodged and burned to create that illusion of perfection. Mascara adverts even contain ‘* this model is wearing lash inserts’. We all strive for perfection when the truth is perfection isn’t real!

Now I know what you’re thinking – ‘wow what a hypocrite, she photoshops her images so what is she even talking about?’, and that’s true, but here is why photoshop isn’t all bad…

The Good

As a photographer, you see mad and marvellous creations on an hourly basis, photographs that create a different world; a form of escapism – even therapy. Photoshop allows your imagination to come alive in limitless possibilities.

I personally believe the idea of photoshop is to create beauty, whether that’s from scratch or enhancing what is already there. We can all be guilty of striving for beauty, whether that’s your makeup routine, a new outfit, or even just an envious glance at something/someone.

The Bad

So the bad bits! We live in this world surrounded by ‘Filters’ so I don’t think you can even say Photoshop is the problem here. We’re all guilty of using the Deer filter for the days where makeup was just too much, but why is that necessary? Why do we feel the need to hide what’s there?

That leads me to my next point where people’s perception of what’s real and what isn’t has been altered. Companies like Missguided have embraced the body positivity movement with no longer photoshopping stretchmarks which makes you think, why has it taken until now? When you see images of celebs on the beach body shamed, not applauded, it shows this need for perfection is everywhere. But can you just blame the media?


I remember countless parent’s when I was younger moaning about their appearance, so much so their children started seeing the same imperfections! Which leads me to Photoshop in everyday life. A photographer cannot change the way you look, that is the job for a seriously skilled retoucher, a photographer shouldn’t want to change how you look, that isn’t photography. Saying ‘Can you just photoshop this?’ or ‘It’s ok you can get rid of that, right?’ is frustrating, why would you want images of yourself that aren’t real, it’s the Photographer’s job to capture memories, themes or a moment.

Another bugbear, when photoshop is used to mask a lack of skill, photography is an amazing art to study, develop and experiment with. If you struggle with something, don’t allow photoshop to hide it, one day you will be found out.

The Ugly

Finally, we all know Photoshop has it’s ugly side, this warped ideal has lead to crippling self-esteem issues in both Men and Women. I think it’s easy to know when an image isn’t ‘real’ when you see it in print, but to see it on social media I think is harder for people to understand. This constant comparison does need to stop.

On a lighter side, photoshop and this obsession with vanity has allowed for great entertainment and positivity from photoshop trolls who take photoshop requests quite literally!

What do you think of photoshop?