Photoshop: A Positive and Negative Innovation

I have been alive for only 21 years (22 in a few days). Therefore, I could not adequately say how Photoshop has affected images in our society over the last 20 years without doing some research.  According to Burim Loshaj, Photoshop came about in the late 1980s and was first released in 1990: 22 years ago.  A major difference can be seen in advertisements alone by typing “80s ads” and “90s ads” into Google Images; the quality of the images has improved, especially concerning color.  Part of this change may have to do with better cameras, but Photoshop probably affected this change more.  Additionally, Adobe reports that Photoshop has affected the way companies like Disney and Activision Blizzard create designs (“Photoshop Fans Celebrate 20 Years.”).
Photoshop allows for the digital manipulation of photos.  It is a staple tool for almost all print, web, and otherwise digital designers.  With the proliferation of celebrity obsession, magazines, tabloids, and even news channels have utilized Photoshop to make celebrities younger, thinner, and more beautiful (beautiful according to the press’s standards) and politicians look older, uglier, and fatter.  According to theHuffington Post, “Photoshopping and airbrushing, many believe, are now an inherent part of the beauty industry, as are makeup, lighting and styling” (Diller).  In a way, these image alterations are “selling” actual people to the masses to affect responses, reactions, and emotions toward these cultural icons.

Not only does it affect “people advertising,” but Photoshop is likely used in (almost) every advertisement, at least every advertisement with pictures.  As one of my classmates pointed out, “those burgers never look that good,” except in the advertisement pictures.  In Photoshop, advertisers can adjust the color of that burger patty, make the cheese look a little more appetizing (this using the liquify function), and set it against a nice background for added appeal.  Advertisements rarely portray an object 100% accurately.  Even when it shows a simple picture, there is often a white background or a drop shadow added to the image to give it a 3D effect.

Photography is also affected by Photoshop further than how it is mentioned for photography in advertisement.  No longer is it about just taking pictures.  Editing is involved: lighting adjustment, color adjustment, artistic blurs, artistic effects, etc.  I heard a conversation with a professor of mine, who is a photographer on the side, and he was saying that people who purchase photography service expect photos to be edited, whether that means color/light adjustment, turned to black and white, or changed in some fun way. This editing is done in Photoshop.  My opinion is that Photoshop is a major reason why photographers make so much money.  We have to pay for their time and labor in editing our photos.  Old photos can also be edited.  I have adjusted colors on an old 80’s photos for my grandmother and mother, as well as removed spots, and enlarged the image using Photoshop.  Photoshop has positively affected photography because it has made photos more visually interesting and can increase quality of the images.

Works Cited

Diller, Vivian.  “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?”  The Huffington Post., Inc.  7 July 2011.  Web.  5 Feb. 2012.

Loshaj, Burim.  “History of Photoshop.”  Adobe Photoshop: Image Editing Program.  n.p.  2010.  Web.  5 Feb. 2012.

“Photoshop Fans Celebrate 20 Years.”  n.p.  18 Feb. 2010.  Web.  5 Feb. 2012.


About Allison L. Goodman

I am a stay-at-home wife and mother. I fill my days making taking care of my daughter, encouraging others, cooking meals for my family, managing my resources through DIY projects, and writing.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Criticism, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Photoshop: A Positive and Negative Innovation

  1. Sophie Mead says:

    Good little piece and some useful citations for me so thank you.
    However, I’m a photographer and I disagree with your comment; “My opinion is that Photoshop is a major reason why photographers make so much money.” In my opinion its not true, a lot of planning and preparation goes into taking images, we work hard to get each ‘job’, we need this amount of money as its our livelihood, although retouching is a part of our work, in comparison to everything else we do it is minimal. If a image is heavily retouched its normally sent to a professional retoucher/CGI artist/ Animator, its not done by the photographer themselves. Plus, the idea that we make ‘so much money’ is only referring to a select few, there are thousands of photographers and the large majority are not at the level you’re suggesting.


    • Hey, Sophie. Thank you so much for your comment! After hiring a couple of photographers myself, I am learning that each has his or her own style, and that it really does take planning to get “the perfect shot.” Thank you for your comment. It was very enlightening. 🙂


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