Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Portrait professional

2012 . 03 . 20 - Comments / Commentaires (4)

Portrait Professional is software which allows an amateur airbrusher to achieve top-notch photo enhancement results in minutes. 

The user opens a photo with the program, chooses “male or female so it knows what to do to the face to make it more attractive,” and marks a few key points on the face. Then the software uses “its knowledge of human beauty to automatically make the face look as good as possible” (quoted from the video here). The user can then adjust how much to alter the original photograph on any number of scales, everything from pore-smoothing to eye-leveling.

Portrait Professional, before

photo by Jose Mondia

I’d like to note here that on the main page of its site, which is where I sourced these photos, Portrait Professional presents their “after” pictures and then their “before” ones. It’s a subtle manipulation of the viewer, but an important one.

Portrait Professional, after

photo by Jose Mondia, enhanced using Portrait Professional

This—the touching up and reshaping of faces—is the sort of thing that is done in advertising and in magazine photos of the rich and famous. At this point, it’s become a casual sort of lying that we don’t even perceive on a conscious level anymore. In fact, we only notice it when a photo of a person isn’t enhanced to remove most references to reality.

I’m a portrait painter, and I do much the same thing as Portrait Professional. I highlight what I find beautiful as I paint. And though I’m a little more subjective than some software that’s been programmed to smooth everything out into a tidy symmetry, I can’t pretend that my portraits aren’t lies in the objective sense of that word. I alter the faces I paint: I downplay some things and exaggerate others.

I lie, and Portrait Professional lies. The only difference is in our motives. The software lies in order to help a subject conform to statistically proven notions of beauty, and I lie in order to better capture a truth about a person. We’re still both liars though.

- Ira Glass in the looking glass
- A little bit in love / Un petit peu amoureuse
- Never the easy pretty

CATEGORIES: - English - Featuring artists - Philosophy - Photography - Portraiture - Reviews -

If you want to receive email updates whenever there’s a new post on this blog, pledge $1 or more of support per month through Patreon!

(4) Comments / Commentaires: Portrait professional

-- Jeri -- 2012 . 03 . 20 --

Is it just me, or is this woman more beautiful in the untouched photograph?

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 03 . 20 --


--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Kelly in AK -- 2012 . 03 . 28 --

Much more beautiful in the before photo!  Imagine seeing someone who’s been retouched in real life… they’d be slightly blurry and have no actual edges, no knuckles, no freckles, no laugh lines. They’d look like a bowl of melting ice cream!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 03 . 29 --

So true and SO GROSS!  We’ve gotten used to these images as stills, but you’re right, they’d be completely monstrous in person!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

Add a comment / Ajouter un commentaire

Name / Votre nom:

Email / Votre e-mail:

(Visible only to Gwenn / Visible uniquement pour Gwenn)

URL / Votre URL:

(Optional / Facultatif)

Comment / Commentaire:

(You can use / Vous pouvez utiliser: < a >, < b >, < i >)

 Remember me for next time. / Retenez mes coordonnées.

 Email me new comments. / Abonnez-moi au fil de discussion.

Please enter the characters you see below / Veuillez rédiger le mot que vous voyez ci-dessous: