The great majority of photographers are amateurs and in most cases they take pictures that need small corrections, adjustments or even modifications. Any of these mistakes are the result of some factors as: experience (the most important aspect), technical characteristics of the camera, the weather, and the psychic state of the photographer. Many people believe that photo manipulation was born at the same time with the explosion of the applications that allow modifications of the pictures on a computer. In fact, photo manipulation existed much before any photo manipulation applications on computers could be envisioned by the human brain.
Using the techniques of manipulation only in entertaining purposes is super; there are few alternatives to show as better as it is, the results of the free imagination and creativity. On the other hand, history demonstrated that photo manipulation is a good weapon in the hands of a good propagandist. Nowadays, all covers of the great magazines presents a lot of VIPs which are more or less “photoshopped” (the term is created from the name of the most important and most used application in photo manipulation, called Adobe Photoshop). The problem has a moral substrate; is it fair to present these VIPs as a perfect human being or is enough to adjust only the lights, brightness or the contrast? Anyway, what really matters is that almost all the great magazines has very well designed and much worked on covers, some of them being far different from the reality. It is probably a marketing policy to put a cover with an interesting actor or model without manipulating the image, it happens sometimes to have such situations (very rarely).
The “photoshopped” images are a great provocation for every creative “photoshopper” because the entire process is subjective and the final product should make content both the readers and the models. It implies a lot of work, talent and time, but the results are amazing. YouTube is full of movies that show an image which has problems with the height and in few minutes, the same person is a perfect model.
I consider the most important conclusion about photo manipulation (also called many times “retouch”) as being the fact that it is an exercise for the creativity of the designers and shouldn’t influence the public. The beauty of the human beings consists in the small imperfections, nobody is perfect (keep in mind). The guys behind Photoshop try to obtain perfection, which is very different from the beauty of the humans. So it’s a mistake to compare a beautiful girl or a woman with a girl from a magazine cover, which is an artistic product.
To be a good photo manipulator isn’t an easy task, usually it requires a lot of experience and talent. First of all, you should be an expert in all the applications that allow changing images (Photoshop, GIMP), but also a strong attention to small details, a lot of creativity, and of course you need to be a smart and lucky person. I present here a very good collection of tutorials only related to the manipulation of images that imply human beings; if the audience will ask for more, be sure I will come with another cool sets of tutorials. Before starting your career as a photo manipulator it is better for you to read these tutorials and to learn the techniques:
Tutorials to learn the basics of photo manipulation:
Surely, there are people who passed the status of novice and want more and here are some another cool resources for them. Please check it out and let me know if you like these:
You probably expect a new collection of tutorials, being the most advanced but unfortunately most of them aren’t free; much more, nobody shares their experience to teach everyone else. On the other hand, by studying the portfolios of the creative designers on the Internet it is easy to find very impressive examples of “before/after” scenarios.
Here, I present a cool list of great portfolios and examples of extreme and professional retouches: