BB classroom: What’s real? .

I have been doing a spot of teaching lately.
Not that I am any sort of professional teacher.
I have the utmost respect for teachers, and the importance they play in our lives.
Plus they have to be the most patient people on the face of the earth, no?
And Lord knows patience is not one of my natural virtues

But Dash’s teacher called on me recently
to share a little of my ‘expertise’ in the photographic field.
And I hesitated about exposing youngsters to my brand of
fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lesson organisation
but agreed, freaked out slightly, then girded my loins, and braved the classroom.
It’s not any old classroom – the entire school: 16 kids aged 4 to 12.
Keeping them all interested was going to be tricky…

Among the many things we talked about over three one-hour sessions, have been:
What is a Photo?
(snapshot, portrait, newspaper image, x-ray, ultrasound, etc)
Why Photos are Important to Us
(record of our lives, our community, our country, our world)
and What is Real?
I find it startling and kinda scary that kids are so exposed these days to images that seem real, but are not. And the number of adults and parents who also cannot seem to be able to distinguish the difference… well, that’s evident in the number of “can you believe these amazing photos’ emails forwarded on through inboxes around the world.
We started with famous people (pics lifted from here):
After the retoucher has been at the photo…
Same photo before…Nice to see famous have pores too!
How about a retouched Desperate housewife: And before the airbrush hit the lovely Nicolette…
The boys in the class were amazed that
blokes get the same treatment by magazines:
And before the ‘plastic-wrap’ look…
And it’s not just about faces…
Check out the change in Kelly’s derriere profile…
Personally I like her with a little more junk in her trunk!
And while no-one could say this is an unattractive pic…
…that airbrush magician sure can tidy up those unruly locks…
I was careful to point out that all these people ARE genetically blessed too – that they are still beautiful in their ‘before’ photos. Just more real than the ‘super smooth, super skinny’ images that get published.
And then we finished on these images…
I got them to look closely where the wheel should have been…
to see where the sand had been ‘copied’ into the spot and the wheel copied and moved.
And then asked them the last time they had seen roos picnicking on a beach…
And described how I thought the photo manipulator had achieved the result.
Of course, I totally admire those who do this work so seamlessly that most onlookers are caught up in the fantasy – they are artists and extremely talented.

I just hope the kids can now look a little more carefully at the images in their world,
and value their precious childhood snaps which add up to their own personal histories,
and the glossy photos that (whether we like it or not)
help form view of ‘what is beautiful’ and ‘what is real’.

Did any of these images surprise you?

22 Responses to “BB classroom: What’s real? .”

  1. Oh Kewl!!! I’m not surprised by the photos but I LOVE that you talked to young people about this!!! How fantastic that those little people now have the knowledge to question ‘perfection’!!! Organised or not – I think your lessons are awesome.

  2. You put a lot of time and thought into that visit, BB, I am very impressed. Can I book you next?

  3. Florida Girl In Sydney Reply May 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    It is very deceiving, and it’s everywhere. What a thought provoking and entertaining topic for your presentation, really great.

  4. It’s amazing to me how much older folks look unretouched. I’m glad you did this for the kids, so they’ll know that perfection isn’t really normal or natural. Tho, I admit, I am prone to retouching portaits, sometimes. I need to figure out how to do the junk reduction.
    (mind if I link you in my blog?)

  5. I can’t believe they took out some of Kelly’s butt! That surprised me. And the hand wrinkles on that second picture!! It’s good to know they aren’t all THAT perfect!!

  6. Cactus Jack Splash Reply May 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I knew the airbrushed photos of famou people, I just never realized how much.

  7. I feel the same way as Cactus Jack….I knew they retouched photos, but wow. Seeing the before and afters was really eyeopening.

    Way to go! I’m sure the kids loved it.

  8. No surprises, really. I appreciated the pointer in looking for the sand that had been airbrushed into where the wheel should have been.

    Interesting! (and good for the kids to know….)

  9. very good lesson for us all. we get too caught up in the fantasy that photography can create. Thanks for the post!

  10. Not surprised @ all. I love that you taught the children about real & enhanced real. Kids just don't realize sometimes. Okay, adults too!

  11. Miss Cruise looks great in BOTH shots. Now there is one that has been blessed!

    Seeing perfection every day and hearing perfection in music seems to give everyone an inferiority complex and dampens the desire to try. Not a good thing—and it takes a lot of joy out just doing and being for a lot of young people.

  12. What a great post! I am actually going to send it over to a few family members (who dont read blogs) because I think we set an unrealistic standard for ourselves and what we should look like in photos. I am the “photographer” in the family and people are always saying, “can you photoshop my wrinkles out?” “My cheeks” “Crop my butt out” LOL I am the same way.

    Good job for teaching the kids the difference! Very cool!

  13. PS- have you ever seen the “real beauty” commerical by Dove (soap)? Here it is:

  14. What a great post! It amazing how much of what we see these days is fake or “helped” along. I only became aware of photoshopping a few years ago and was blown away by the before and afters. They actors in you blog are all naturally beautiful but they really can take anyone and make them “perfect.” And Kelly is way cute with some junk in her trunk.

    I am guilty of some touch ups though. My brother took our family pic and i got my hands on it and whitened some teeth up and got rid of some blemishes. It’s such a crazy culture we live in.

    Have you seen this?

    It’s pretty cool. The women are gorgeous with no makeup and no photoshop. Granted the lighting is very flattering :-)

  15. Do you mean those Kangaroos AREN’T having a picnic on the beach?

    lol I remember watching a doco about (trained) wild animals being used in ads and how they really aren’t even in the same shots.

  16. It is truly amazing – you hear about all the airbrushing and thinning tricks, but wow!

  17. Good post. Some of them surprised me, but I can tell they are all retouched because few people in real life are blessed withs such perfect skin, LOL! I like both photos though, I just understand the retouched ones are not real. However, kids and teens looking up to them don’t get that. And even though I do, I am still influenced by it, whether I think I’m immune or not.
    I think a few wrinkles and signs of “aging” are very natural and real. I like real!
    I’ve gotten email forwards of “amazing” photos of animals and strange things….and I’m like, highly unlikely a photographer was there to capture that moment!

  18. You would be a fab photography teacher, BB!
    Great article :)

  19. Woman in a Window Reply May 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Ya, Hope the kids got it. The Kids. (And here I am thinking, I knew they do this, but to see it done, it is quite startling. Thanks for this one!)

  20. What a great service you did for these chidren, teaching them about photo re-touching and impossible standards they need not live up to.

    Love that your kids school is small and all ages. There is great benefit in that.

  21. This was an educational and enjoyable post for me too! What???? Roos don’t picnic on your beaches??? :P

  22. Totally educated on the before and after. I know that many in society (including myself) have said that billboards and models get manipulated to look the way they are "supposed" to look, but it is mind-boggling to see their actual before photos right after their manipulated one.

    I think that just like the other post you had about using botox, eye lifts, and whatnot today… people aren't valuing the REAL as much as the FAKE. It is really sad. :(

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