Photoshop, Coming to a Holiday Card Near You

Why digital retouching is on the rise this season

Tis the season to look perfect! At least that's what most of us (myself included) secretly believe when we start to think about creating personalized Christmas cards. Sure, at first it was only celebs who could get all glammed up (or whittled down) with Photoshop but (shocker!) now the trend has filtered down to the masses with services like PicWash that for a mere $15 will make your teeth whiter, your hips slimmer and your friends green with envy when they see your photo.

Why are we so obsessed with perfection? After seeing page after glossy page of models so airbrushed they've crossed the line from reality into art, we've become conditioned to expect a certain amount of perfection in pictures, and not just in celebrities but in ourselves as well. With advancements in cameras and photo-editing software, this expectation of the flawless photo begins to seem not just reasonable, but mandatory, a concept that professional photographers are more than happy to sell. Heck, even my child's elementary school now offers digital retouching for their annual school photos.

All of this digital manipulation has a downside though and it's called the "uncanny valley". This phrase describes the uncomfortable feeling one gets when looking at a computer-generated image that looks somewhat life-like but not truly real. The truth is, deep down people can recognize an enhanced image, even if it's just to think "Something's off here...." Do you really want to send that message this holiday season?

Plus, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and the ubiquity of camera phones, none of us can pull off a perfect persona for long. Eventually, even people that haven't seen you in the flesh in ten years will know what you look like now. At the end of the day you won't truly be fooling anyone except maybe yourself.

Would you ever consider retouching a holiday photo?
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