Aging Beautifully — Has Digital Photography “Taken Away Our Humanness”?

We’re certainly a bit preoccupied with ourselves, always talking about the one behind the lens. What about those in front of it? Here’s a beautiful model talking about photography. Actress and model Amber Valetta alleges in an article on Forbes that digital photography takes away our humanness. Valetta refers to her One for the Ages fashion series shot by Steven Klein: what would it be like to be 120 years old.

Beautiful digital darkroom. How easy it is to correct human blemishes. We’re not talking about what digital does for us on a larger scale. Asked whether the digital retouching in photography today allows women to succeed who are less beautiful than, say, 20 years ago, Valetta responds in a way that should make every portrait and fashion photographer regret his or her fine optics:

To be honest I don’t think anybody is any less or more beautiful today physically as much as film — the quality of film in a photograph or in a feature film or television — is so much… there’s a magic to it that we’ve lost in digital. What happens now is digital picks up every single flaw on any human being because we’re looking at blades of grass in a football field now. And so you see a pore.

Amber Valetta -- One for the Ages | Steven Klein for W Magazine
Amber Valetta — One for the Ages | Steven Klein for W Magazine

Whereas when you had film you couldn’t do that, says the model. That’s why George Hurrell the famous (Hollywood glamour) photographer, would put grease on a girls’ face, like Vaseline basically, and then light it up. And then they would hand-retouch the photograph:

It’s not like that today. Everything is, like, avatars and re-imaging through digital, and you lose this kind of humanness. And I think that’s why there’s a backlash. Digital has taken away our humanness. The quality, especially in still photography, doesn’t feel real anymore. It’s not tangible. There’s not a tactileness to the skin like you felt when you looked at a photograph from film. And I think that most people will say that now.

Amber Valetta -- One for the Ages | Steven Klein for W Magazine
Amber Valetta — One for the Ages | Steven Klein for W Magazine

For the actresses’ and models’ sake, should we go back to an appreciation for film? Valetta:

I hope so. I mean I’ve seen some beautiful things about digital. Look, there’s no way to compare it to how it was with the chemicals and stuff like that. I can understand that. But I think again we’re losing some of that craftsmanship that we had with film photography, and feature films even are losing some of that. There are people who still shoot with film, but a lot of that is going to digital on television. The high definition, it’s just a little intense. In high definition TV, if you have one flaw, you’re screwed.

And Valetta is not yet done with her digital reckoning. Digital is not a healthy change, she says:

Yes. I have seen a real change. I think everybody feels a little sad about the loss of film and Polaroid and the process, you know? I do. When you talk to any of the artists, people say the same thing. But they don’t have a choice. They have to move with what is happening now. Everybody wants everything now! They want their photographers to retouch and get it to print or the magazine or the advertising. They want it now. They don’t want it in three or four weeks.


(Via Forbes. For the complete “One for the Ages” series visit W Magazine.)

  • Benicio

    2 spelling mistakes in the very first paragraph alone. Come on now son!

  • Apologies Benicio…