What Photoshop is Capable Of

For that poreless android look...Photoshop! Considering how digitally altered and manipulated many beauty-ad images are, they might as well be advertising Photoshop rather than mascara or hair conditioner, said artist Anna Hill. For a digital photography class project, the 24-year-old East Carolina University student created four faux Photoshop ads that highlight how the fashion, advertising, and publishing industries use digital editing to create illusions of physical perfection.

Hill first shared the works on Reddit, where they've attracted a few hundred comments. Hill notes how easily manipulated images can warp our sense of what looks right or desirable.

"One thing I noticed when I was doing these (is) that when I suddenly went back to the unedited layer, it looked so wrong and kinda gross," wrote Hill. "It made me extra aware of how skewed my perception was after looking at the edited ones for a while."

Hill's is the latest in a rash of recent projects devoted to "exposing" Photoshop's effects. While efforts like these are interesting and probably important, they don't seem to be having much of an effect on businesses or beauty culture. Rather than the proliferation of user-uploaded snapshots and selfies online forcing more reality into professional photography, the pro-photo world's airbrush-happy ways have rubbed off on all of us. Last month, model Miranda Kerr was caught uploading digitally altered images to her Instagram account. And here are now free phone apps that put Photoshop's more insidious image-enhancing capabilities — teeth whitening, pore hiding, tummy trimming — at everyone's fingertips. This video illustrates what Photoshop is capable of.

In the midst of all this, I feel like we should keep in mind that Photoshop itself isn't good or bad. Plenty of people and industries use Photoshop for perfectly unquestionable things. Photoshop is simply one of many programs that allows for digital image alteration. What we're really decrying is unrealistic beauty standards, not an editing tool.

Images courtesy of Anna Hill