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Monday, 27 February 2012


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And to me she looks a lot sexier than all those air brushed young celebs. But that may reflect more on me, and on Cate, than on the technique.

Who did Ms Blanchett's make-up and hair? Who designed the lighting? Is it no longer Photoshop if you do it in front of the camera?

From what I've seen over the years, Photoshop has become a substitute for good photographic technique outside the camera. Why bother with proper lighting, flattering poses or good make-up when you can "fix" everything in Photoshop?

As an aside, Cate Blanchett would look beautiful fresh out of bed and photographed with a phone camera. She's one of the few Hollywood actresses who can pull that off.

But as even Mr. de Lisle points out, this is a photo of Ms. Blanchett that is NOT about her movie-starness (except in the context of "you know her as a movie star, but she's a theatre impresario too!")

Also, "a great rarity in this day and age" is fantastically silly: name the day and age when film star photography wasn't retouched within an inch of its life. Go look at Clarence Bull's pics of Greta Garbo and tell me when you see a wrinkle. (Granted, Garbo retired at 35...).

I'm not a fan of waxwork-grade Photoshop disasters, of course; I think it looks fake and bad. But this photo of a working actress, unretouched*, would be noteworthy in almost any era since the start of movies.

*insert usual discussion of what level of manipulation, in-camera or out-, is acceptable.

Maybe I missed it, but I'd like to know if this was the plan from the get-go or if the editor made the decision? I'd like to think it was planned. Wish we could see more of this kind of thing.

(x-posted from my Facebook. Sorry, I should have thought to post it here first.)

Excellent photo. I've been reading about early reactions to the advent of photography, including by people like Oliver Wendell Holmes, for whom the appeal of the medium was maximally life-like reproduction. It is interesting to me that that trope -- mimesis -- has been used for so long (much longer than Photoshop has existed) to lie to the viewer that when somebody even so much as gestures in its direction, it's radical.

What's interesting about this photo isn't "OMG, she's not airbrushed!." But rather, "OMG, the medium isn't what it claims!" And it doesn't seem to matter that we all already knew it. The distance between knowing it and seeing it makes the experience like new every time one of these pictures gets published.

Excellent photograph of an excellent face. 'Shopping would have improved neither.

Finally, "intelligent life" after all! As a portrait photographer I am frequently asked to "improve" the way the subject looks. " You can fix that in photoshop, right?" is the usual request.
Personally, I feel that I have earned every wrinkle that I have. This image is just totally refreshing. Let's hope this is a trend and not the exception. Ray

And more so attractive because of it.

That's great! I might just go out and buy a copy, that kind of behaviour is worth supporting. Of course, 'photoshopping' has been happening since the first portrait, but we are swamped with overly-manipulated images at the moment, and anything that bucks that trend is worth celebrating.
Here's to less (or at least judicious) use of photoshop!

Who would be stupid enough to Photoshop Cate Blanchett, anyway? Talk about a complete waste of time. Maybe it's because I'm a bit older, 54, but "perfect" people are incredibly boring to me, and increasingly so. My 89 year old mother-in-law's face is etched with life. In that regard, she's more beautiful than any airbrushed movie starlet.

Judging by the title of the story, the decision to shoot simply and without Photoshop (or at least very little of it) is a very wise move. Credit to the photographer and the art director.

Surgery, botox, make-up, photoshop...

Even I could look like a starlet!

OK, so the photographer didn't use Photoshop(TM) to edit the photo. Instead, Lightroom was sufficient, or perhaps Corel Photopaint? What's the name of the Linux based editor again?

p.s. I can't resist any opportunity to be cynical.

A beautiful portrait of a fine, middle aged actress.

The proof is always in the pudding. And the result here clearly demonstrates how doing it right the first time around will always trump a sloppy job to be unavoidably rescued later by hours of layering.

Tip o' the hat to Steve for the artistry and to Graham to have the "guts" (read "balls") to do this.

Yes Photoshop is the default, the mainstream. To bypass that process is rebellious, daring. Or as they say in Belgium: avant-garde.

"It is a "curious sign of the times" that a photograph could be unusual for being just a photograph, isn't it".
I wanted to something similar, but you were faster. Exactly.

At the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers they've split the portrait competition into two groups: "Classic" with darkroom-type adjustments similar to the Blanchett shot, and "Contemporary", where waxworks and other Photoshop freaks are welcomed.

My personal preference is for a natural look, although I might remove temporary imperfections such as pimples, as well as fingernail scratches on babies' faces. How could anyone improve on a face like this one?

I once took a shot of a preschooler who had fallen and taken the skin off her nose a week earlier. I asked the mother if she wanted me to try and cover the damage, but was told to leave it. This was only casual photography - rather than something that was going on the lounge wall - but I found it interesting that the mother preferred realism. I would not have been surprised if the father preferred realism :).

It is unusual that the photo isn't retouched, but it's not as if retouching began with Photoshop. Retouching has pretty much always been part of the art and discipline of photographic portraiture since the 19th century--certainly celebrity portraiture--and during some periods it has been as important as lighting, even more important than makeup. Hurrell famously liked to photograph Hollywood actresses with fresh clean skin to capture the natural glow, with makeup only on the eyes and lips. The blemishes would be fixed with pencil, knife, abrasive reducer and other manual techniques directly on the negative.

What strikes me as most interesting about the photograph is the pose, the hair, the camera angle, and the crop that create the illusion that she has an enormous head on a virtually non-existent body.

When I saw the fine portrait of Marie Colvin the other day, I thought that Cate Blannchett would be perfect for her life story. Having seen this picture, I'm certain of it. She did an amazing job playing playing Katharine Hepurn in the Aviator

Cate is a refreshingly down to earth woman who has always pushed aside pointless pretensions. If anyone was going to agree to a cover like this it comes as no surprise that it is her. Locals at the harboiur suburb of Hunters Hill here in Sydney are well accustomed to her queuing outside the school for the child pick up with the other mums (Australian for moms).

Cate did a reading at the funeral of a mutual friend a couple of years back. I have never heard "To every thing there is a season ....." quite so magnificently, nopt even by Bob Dylan.


If you want to be glamourous you will do anything to look 20, but if you want to be taken seriously you need to have a few lines and a bit of character.

This was an attempt to show a one-time sex kitten (and decent actress) can also be a serious businesswoman - so I would guess the lack of massaging was deliberate.

But as a grown up I just happen to find the reality far more striking and sexy than a smoothed over identikit bimbo.

Photoshop has done more damage to the feminist cause than just about anything else I reckon. Plastic surgeons should pay them a retainer for all the business it generates.

Not only does the female image get abused for marketing purposes, it appears that the mental age of the people it is aimed at is decidedly adolescent.

Cate, Helen Mirren, Susan Sorandon and others prove that age and wrinkles are no barrier to being incredibly sexy. Let's hope this starts a new trend.

Click on the blog post link and you'll find a link to a fabulous photo essay on Ethiopia by Seabastian Salgado, this is clearly an Intelligent magazine!

And you can download the iPad version free!

It's too bad we can't get "Intelligent Life" on this side of the pond. It is, at most, an occasional insert in the US edition of the Economist (like last week's issue).

Much more attractive.

A model with real skin? Pores? Lines? A semblance of humanity?

Very happy to see this. Thanks for posting!

I completely agree with Miserere and Ryan Cousineau above. That's excellent and subtle lighting on a beautiful face to start. This is not what you'd see sitting across from her in a fluorescent lit office!

Furthermore, there's other subtle things at work here: we already KNOW she's a movie star, have already seen her as such and beautifully/carefully styled many times over. We are perhaps somewhat conditioned to "seeing" her within a well established frame of beauty.

What this image shows to me, in its contrast, is just how tacky modern portrait retouching has gotten. Just like most HDR.

Cate requires no Photoshop.

The real Cate looks great to me.

That's funny , she hardly looks like Bob Dylan at all.

Very fine magazine, available for free (for now?) worldwide for the ipad.

Good writers, at least one big photography reportage in each issue.

Intelligent indeed.

Miserere: "Hollywood actress" Harrumph, indeed!

Australian actress, theatre boss of the Sydney Theatre Company.

I know, I know "Hollywood" is generic, just had to wave the flag.

Intelligent Life on the iPad is great fun to read. Other nice apps for the iPad I like are Life, TED, The Guardian Eyewitness, Gagosian, Monopol, Cool Hunting and Colors.

Dove currently shows 'normal' models in their ads. In 2006, they did this commercial which makes the point about beauty:


There's a free iPhone app for this publication too. Go to the App Store, enter "Intelligent Life".

Rather disappointed by the IL editor's blog post--difficult to find the photographer identified, let alone linked.


What's interesting about this photo isn't "OMG, she's not airbrushed!." But rather, "OMG,she is so beautiful! as well as being a very good actress and intelligent, unpretentious woman.

'Intelligent Life' even has the occasional good article.

I can't wait for the day I look like Samuel Beckett.. There's a certain dignity to the battle scars. Of course I suppose it helps that he's Samuel Beckett too.

Does this photo supposedly have NO retouching or just Photoshop wasn't used to do the retouching? If you look at here left eye there seems to be some weird smudging to the side and as you look back to her ear a hard line from the smudging to skin pores. Doesn't look natural to me. Just curious, however I think they have made their point.

True beauty don't need no steenkin' photoshop!

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