Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

Sex, Lies and Photoshop

I’ve been working in Photoshop since version 3.0. Photoshop (and design in general) has come a long way. With each new version there are features available to help make my job easier and make the finished product look better. I love how far design has come.

But there is one part of my industry that I’m ashamed of. Photoshop retouch artists have redefined the standards of beauty, health and physical appearance through what has come to be known as the ‘Photoshop Effect.’

Just because we have the tools to completely change the look of a person’s body in Photoshop doesn’t mean we have the right to do that. Especially when what we’re altering distorts the image of what and what isn’t the definition of a perfect body. With so much falsehood in fashion advertising, just how much are we affecting the minds of the younger generation?

70 percent of girls report that images of models in magazines influence their definition of a perfect female body.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Most of you have seen the popular Dove Evolution commercial that shows in detail how easy it is to completely adjust an image to reflect something that isn’t even realistic.

Many celebrities have dedicated retouchers on commission and won’t let a single photo be released until it passes through them. For an interactive look at exactly what goes into a Photoshop magazine cover retouch.

We Live In A Virtual World

The plain and simple truth is that no one can live up to the images of beauty and physical appearance that we see in magazines these days. Research shows that these images negatively affect a girls self-image and yet magazines continue to push the boundaries of what they define as ‘beauty.’

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These days, altered images are ubiquitous; the fairytale world threatens to engulf our own. The illusion is more complete, too — with digital technology it’s harder to see the smoothing. Stalin would have drooled at the possibilities.
More here on David Byrne’s Journal.

Beautifully Unrealistic

Here are some examples of popular celebrity photos before and after Photoshop retouching. Observe the completely flawless skin, the reduced waist line, enlarged bust, lack of eye lines, and perfect hair.

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There are many people who are advocating a new standard for magazines that will require them to clearly list in the credits for a photograph that it was retouched. I don’t think that will help to rebuild the self-image of countless girls who are trying to measure up to these false standards but it’s a start.

Magazine-retouching may not be a lie on par with, you know, “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” but in a world where girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts, professional women are almost required to fetishize handbags, and everyone is spending way too much d*** time figuring out how to pose in a way that will look as good as that friend with the really popular MySpace profile, it’s f*****g wrong.

– Anna, Photoshop of Horrors

What do you think?

Should magazines be required to label which photographs have been retouched? Or is this issue blown out of proportion?…

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5 Tips for Becoming A Social Network Butterfly

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The Internet is changing daily. In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions have joined the social networking trend. But social networking isn’t just for business professionals trying to find new sales leads or socially inept computer nerds trying to retreat from the real world.

No matter what your level of experience is with blogging or social media you can expand your circle of friends and meet some amazing new people.

5 Tips To Becoming A Social Network Butterfly

Let me start by pointing out that the goal isn’t to meet so many new people that you develop a large group of shallow relationships. The key to social networking is meeting enough people so that you can cultivate deeper relationships with those you click with. Here are 5 tips for becoming a social network butterfly everyone wants to meet.

1. Make Yourself Easy To Find

Perhaps the simplest and most obvious way to get connected online is to get yourself out there! There are a host of popular SN sites that make it easy to meet new people. Some of the more popular ones include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, StubleUpon, YouTube, Vimeo and LinkedIn (we won’t mention MySpace, I’m still trying to pretend it doesn’t exist).

However, one of the biggest mistakes I see people making on their blogs is failing to provide easy links to all their social network profiles. If you’re going to capitalize on networked relationships then make it easy for visitors to your blog to find where else you are online. Popular social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of this on his blog. Make the most out of your online presence by making yourself easy to find.

2. Cultivate Shared Interests

As you begin to develop your online relationships you’ll find you related to some people better than others. The beauty of social networking is that it allows you to connect with people that have similar likes and interests as you no matter where in the world they live. There are several new sites and tools that help facilitate meeting people with shared interests.

Meetup is one of the largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group around an interest or activity. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

Roov is a new online community launched earlier this summer that “connects like-minded individuals around their shared experiences and passions within their church and city.” It was designed to help facilitate new relationships and build community within the church.

There are a variety of other social networking tools that allow you meet new people that share your interest, hobby, affinity or passion.

3. Discover New Connections

Just meeting and associating with people online who have the same tastes and style would greatly limit you. There are certain online “circles” you may feel more comfortable hanging in but why not leverage the power of social networking tools to broaden your interests and meet new people.

Most of the people you interact with online probably became your “friend” through another online friend or a link off of their site. The old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is just as true on the web. The most successful social networkers have expanded their social circles to include thousands or tens of thousands.

One good way to make new connections online is to harness the power of Google Alerts. Simply type in the search term of your choice, such as the name of your favorite author or an area of social need you’re passionate about. Select “Blogs” in the search type to limit the alerts to just blogs that mention those keywords you chose. Choose how often you’d like to receive notifications, type in your email address and click the ‘create alert’ button.

You can create as many of these alerts as like and manage them from your Google account. You’ll be amazed as the new connections start showing up in your inbox.

You can also use Twitter’s Search functionality to perform real-time searches of what people are saying on Twitter. This is another great way to meet new people on Twitter who are already talking about the things you’re interested in but may not run in your social networking circles.

4. Go Deeper With Key Relationships

Sure, you may have 535 friends on Facebook and follow 796 people on Twitter but what fun is that? The ultimate goal here isn’t to see how many people you can follow on Twitter (even though some people take that approach) but to find new people that you can get to know better.

Most social network or blogging relationships start with the “comment exchange” – I leave a comment on your blog, you leave a comment on mine. Don’t just limit yourself to “comment relationships” though. If you’re clicking with someone then shoot them an email, forward them a link you think they would enjoy reading. You may even chat with Skype or AIM.

You’re going to develop lots of relationships online but you won’t necessarily get to know everyone on the same level. Take the time to go deeper with people you really like.

5. Meet In Person

relationships-20081002-100118The ultimate goal of social networking isn’t to be stuck behind the computer all day hanging out with our “virtual friends.” In spite of all the great networking tools that about on the Internet today, nothing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face.

Be sure to check out local social networking sites in your area to see if there are any opportunities for connecting over shared interests. Meetup.com is a great resource for this but in my area there’s also sites like Smaller Indiana that help facilitate meetups.

I’ve been blogging for 9 months and I already have a network of people that I can hook up with for coffee or lunch in nearly every major metropolitan hub in the country. You just can’t develop a network of relationships like that anywhere else.

Next week I’ll be hooking up with 60+ bloggers at the Bloggers08 Atlanta Meetup, many of whom I’ll be meeting for the first time. I’ve also had the chance to meet some amazing people in person that I would have never been able to meet were it not for my social network.

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Good luck on using these 5 tips to expand your online circle of friends. Social Networking isn’t just a trend or buzz-word, its a chance for you to make and develop new relationships with people you would otherwise never had the opportunity to meet. I’d love to hear more ideas and tools you use for your social networking.…

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