Airbrushing in Photography

Taking a photography course has been one of the most educational and entertaining experiences I have been through, and I am always interested in ideas that come from arguments. Although when someone becomes offended by opinions I voice and the choice of words I use; I do feel a small amount of remorse and sympathy. That is until you prove my point correct, then along with some of my respect, that remorse and sympathy I felt have disappeared altogether.

A discussion in a recent class was based around whether or not airbrushing and heavy editing should be in portrait photography, that being a fairly vague selection seeing as portraits are used from home decor to professional advertisements, many opinions can be formed. In my personal opinion unless you are doing portraits for a fashion magazine where you want more emphasis on the product than the model you should never adopt an airbrushing technique within a digital space. My classmate did not agree with this, they felt that airbrushing can be done right and when it is done right the image will look real, a fair point my classmates confidence gave me reason to suspect that they knew what they were arguing as well as could do believable airbrushing.  So about a week after this class I saw a post from this classmate where she had done someones photos and did her editing, on first look I asked myself who did such a great 3d render only to find that this was indeed a photograph; and that plastic look that I had complained airbrushing causes, and my classmate said they do not produce.

Airbrushing in real life and digital airbrushing are not on equal playing fields, the detail you can get in real life is much higher than in the digital work this is because of certain techniques that Photoshop has yet to add. So is it possible to digitally create a realistic photograph of a person that doesn’t exist, yes it is quite possible but all current processes to create such images use skin texture from real people while the facial features and other ascetics are digitally created or sculpted facial textures are imported from real photographs.

This is what began to bother me about my classmates high-strung attitude, her photograph which is meant to capture the likeness of a person and not feel fake or plastic was less realistic than a 3d render. Think about that for a second an image taken in real time of a real person, fails in comparison of realism to a 3d render created digitally of a person that has never actually existed in the natural world, only solidifying my original argument.



A 3d render created by CGArtist David Moratilla


Form your own opinions, Do you think that airbrushing cannot be done at a boutique level so that photos look 100% realistic or not?

Images borrowed from


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