Do you look like your photo? 照片中的你是真的嗎?

Image caption Would you manipulate your graduation picture?

Vocabulary: photography 詞匯: 攝影

I have a confession to make: I don't look very much like the picture I uploaded to my social media profile. I'm actually a bit fatter, and my hair is a bit darker and… well, I don't look that good in real life. But don't we all wish we looked better in photographs?

Well, most people do - and that's how the verb 『to photoshop』 was born. It comes from the name of a popular software package and it describes the action of digitally altering images.

Back in the days of analogue photography, the equipment necessary for enhancing photographic images was usually only found in the hands of professionals - or amateurs keen enough to have a photo lab at home. Fast-forward to the present, and user-friendly computer software means that anyone can digitally airbrush images to make themselves look slimmer, taller, younger, more beautiful. You too can create a perfect portrait, in your own living room, at the click of a mouse.

But professional artistry is still in demand. Some graduation ceremony photographers in Britain have recently been offering to give their clients a slimmer look and whiter teeth or, as they put it, a "smile enhancement". And it doesn't add much to the cost of a framed graduation photo.

One wonders if this is a sad snapshot of today』s society, in which we find it increasingly difficult to accept how we really look. Would I be creating a 'fake memory' if I had my graduation picture manipulated to make me look more photogenic - or would it just be a fail-safe way to look good in this once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity?

Some might say that in the age of the selfie, when our image is very much out there in the virtual world, it's essential to make sure we always look our best. And the information technology industry is certainly doing its bit to make that a reality. Just look at the availability of apps that instantly touch up your pictures before you post them online.

Maybe the lesson in all this is not to go overboard. Increasing the contrast and making the colours look brighter might be alright, I suppose. But looking like Angelina Jolie when… well, you』re not Angelina Jolie, sounds wrong to me.