We often hear that models and stars look perfect because they're "airbrushed" (another of those out-of-date terms that may survive a little longer anyway), but few demonstrations of it are quite so stark as the before-and-after shots at iWanex Studio's Professional Photo Retouching Services website.
Go to the website, click on "Portfolio," choose one of the pictures, and roll your mouse on and off of the picture.
I don't recognize more than three or four of these people (who is this woman, for instance? I have no clue), but, perhaps characteristically, I prefer the "before" versions in most cases—they look more like real photographs (okay, okay, don't start).
Mike (Thanks to Edward Casati a.k.a. Unbound)
ADDENDUM: There's a good article about this trend (and apparently it is a trend) in the Telegraph of August 17th. (Thanks to Michael.)
Featured Comment by Stevierose: "The only surprise to me in this post about the ubiquitousness of heavy PS retouching of glamor and magazine shots and its comments is that people are surprised. I have taken PS retouching class with Katrin Eismann (author of Photoshop Retouching and Restoration) who is a master of these techniques. I have also participated in a two day PS tutorial with Scott Bourne, a PS pioneer, who, at the time, was an early adopter of digital techniques for wedding photography. Watching Katrin wield her Wacom Tablet pen and Scott make all of those brides 'pop' was a revelation. Eyeballs and teeth are whitened. Blemishes removed. Arms, legs, waists, noses, and butts are slimmed. Catch lights are added to the eyes. Teeth are made straight. Scott even used layer techniques to make the luminosity of the bride greater than everyone else in the photo so that she looked like she was 'glowing' (the brides, after all, choose which photos to buy). For someone who knows what they are doing it only takes a minute or so to make these 'corrections.'
"Since then, this sort of retouching has looked obvious to me in essentially every magazine cover having to do with celebrities, especially the covers of women's magazines and People and its imitators. Most of the time the modifications are quite crude and obvious to anyone with PS experience.
"As far as I am concerned, the most important societal issue arising from this is the negative effect that it has on the self esteem and self image of girls and women. The people that they see in all of these images flowing into their homes do not really exist. In fact, speaking as a physician, in many cases the people we see in these photographs are physiologically and anatomically impossible. Bodies just don't do some of the things we make them do with Photoshop. I remember one women's magazine cover in which they had clearly moved the attachment of the model's arm so that the photo would fit the cover art 'better.'
"I asked Ms. Eismann if she was at all concerned that the work that she did and taught to the rest of us might be damaging the the self esteem of adolescent and adult women who were confronted with this new 'reality' every where they looked. She admitted a great deal of concern, so much so that she gives presentations to classes of high school girls in NYC in which she demonstrates her techniques in order to 'unmask' them. I think it is great that she does that, though it seems like a drop in the ocean to me. I would suggest that those of you who know about these techniques do something similar with the women and girls in your life. I have spent some very interesting time with my daughter and her friends teaching them how to analyze and 'decode' these photographs that stare out at them from their magazines. The positive effect on them has been both immediate and empowering (in the true sense of the word). It changes their world view. Give it a try."