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Picture 2

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately:

A few weeks ago I posted Picture 2 on my facebook page and got lots of compliments: “What a great picture!”, etc, etc.  I offhandedly mentioned to a friend that I actually edited the original (picture 1) in Picnik, my favorite photo-editing site, and they said, “You shouldn’t tell people that!”  I was a little puzzled, thinking, why does it matter?  I mean, an artist is someone who takes one thing and makes it interesting, thought-provoking, or beautiful, right?  Why shouldn’t people know I made a good photo look better?

When I was a teenager, people would tell me not to look at the models in the magazines because they are “fake” anyways-retouched, sized down, changed completely.  I (and other girls) should protect my view of women and appreciate women-and myself- for what we were really like-curves, bumps, and all.  I guess I agreed with them, that I should not try to be someone I’m not.  And who am I kidding?  Those images do affect us (me).  Studies show that when something is “desirable”, we try to be, or do, or have that thing.  I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism of pictures of models, but I’ve done my share of criticizing, too.

Picture 1

That said, why don’t I feel bad about editing my photo?  I changed a few things-brightened the color, sharpened some parts, softened others; I think I even may have whitened my teeth a bit.  Yes, I did change the photo.  Yes, I do look better in picture 2.  Am I trying to be something I’m not?  I don’t think so, but where is the line?  How much editing is too much?  I know artists who edit photos all the time to give them a certain look, appeal, or even an emotion, perhaps.  That’s probably why I edit-for the emotion.  I want to remember having Caleb as special, beautiful, magical, wonderful.  Are there difficult times that I’d rather not have pictures of?  Times when he will be ugly and I will wish someone else had to deal with him?  Times when the truth of life speaks louder than the fantasy we wish it was?  Yes, of course, to all of these things.  But good memories of the past move us forward.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt happy when I look back at old photos of my grandmother.

I am certainly not excusing all photo-editing, given all of the negative images out there.  I’m not even saying it is okay for people to make money by making models look better.  I think we need to be wise when viewing and idolizing certain images, for sure.  However, it is hard to deny that when we criticize others for distorting reality, we’re actually doing  it too.

PS. If you want some really great tutorials about photo-editing and how to use Picnik, go here.

Before Picnik

After Picnik

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier.  This work of fiction was born from the famous 17th century painting by Johannes Vermeer.

Johannes Vermeer, circa 1665

Johannes Vermeer, circa 1665

In this story, Griet is sent to work at the house of a famous painter in order to help support her poor family.  A young girl, she becomes a woman in the Vermeer household, experiencing the confusion of love, the duty of her position, and the intoxication of Vermeer’s paintings.

Though this book began with a disappointing hardship in Griet’s life, the story becomes hopeful,  and she begins her new position with a positive outlook.  Soon, however, foreshadowings of sadness begin to soak through the words of Chevalier’s novel.

The story of Griet, a simple maid, draws you in slowly like a melancholy violin solo, soft and deep.  Even though the reader hopes for a better ending for Griet, he knows deep down, as Griet does, that it is not meant to be.  In the end, the quiet resignation of Griet to carry her life’s burdens could make a person remember the sadness they may have once shouldered.

I recommend this book to those who love art and dreaming.  Perhaps like an artist, the author paints her story with emotions and soul.  Though the ending is not the “happily ever after” of dreamers, it mirrors the ironic marriage of the mysterious and candid nature of the painting done by Vermeer many years ago.  After reading this story and seeing the curious expression of Vermeer’s subject, one will begin to wonder about the painting of a simple girl wearing a pearl.