Saved by the airbrush – beauty, photography and Photoshop

Doesn’t this little collection just go to show you that a bit of Photoshop can work wonders?

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No wonder women are always comparing themselves with supermodels and coming up short. Because even if we’re not six foot tall and seven stone wringing wet, we too could look fabby if we had a team of photographers, stylists, make-up artists, dressers, lighting engineers, designers, jewellers and hairdressers working on us round the clock.

FYI, these three photos were taken within months of each other.

The first photo is the ‘real me’, if you like. Taken at the end of a long day, I’m looking pretty tired, wearing my normal makeup (I see I’ve eaten off most of my lipstick) and am indoors but lit by photographic lights. The normal makeup you wear every day isn’t strong enough to stand up to flash photography, and that shows clearly here. Note that you can also see both my freckles and my sulky puppet mouth – that’s a sign it hasn’t been retouched. This pissed-off expression is my habitual one and means: "Oh, for fuck’s sake get ON with it…". There are probably hundreds of pix of me looking like this.

blog imageThe second photo on the other hand is the kind that makes you want to shoot yourself. Taken for ‘Prima’ magazine, it was meant to evoke Provence, so photographing it in Normandy on a glacially cold day in March was something of a trial (just outside the frame, there’s still snow on the ground). As well as having to squint into sunlight and twist myself into a weird position on a garden bench, the magazine insisted that I smile (oh ye gods…) and wear something bright. Well, I don’t wear bright things. I wear black things and brown things and blue things, so this blocky waistcoat was the closest thing I could find (and has also since been binned for its pup-tent potential – you can’t see the rest of this pic, but boy scouts could camp in this thing). Generally speaking, I’d advise any woman to jettison a photo this unflattering immediately – don’t keep them hanging around unless you want your grandkids to remember you as a giant rat.

blog image The last photo …sigh… is how I’d like to pretend I look all the time and was shot for a bit of fun one day when the DH fancied playing at Hollywood Portraits. But it’s achieved only with considerable artifice (come on, you guessed, didn’t you?). First come the studio lighting and props (vintage furs and lace) and second, I’m on my back, which brings out your cheekbones (a good tip, if you ever want a studio portrait taken). To tell the truth, I’m lying on the living room floor, on a photo roll and some pillows. Add to this makeup about half a yard thick to stand up to the lights, and repowdering between every shot. Then finally the image itself has been retouched, just like EVERY picture you EVER see of ANY model – note the complete lack of freckles, lines, etc, which is a dead giveaway that something’s been worked on. Cindy Crawford once said that sometimes she didn’t recognise herself in photos, she’d been so heavily retouched, and now I know what she means.

All of this is digression, really. What I really wanted to say was we should all stop beating ourselves up if we don’t look like Lily Cole, or even women our own age like Teri Hatcher or Salma Hayek. Because beautiful though they may be, they don’t look that good in real life any more than we do.

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