Watch How Photoshop Manufactures Beauty in 90 Seconds

Watch How Photoshop Manufactures Beauty in 90 Seconds

This ingenious video has gone viral as the true level of photoshopping to manufactures 'beauty' is exposed. In this clip, we see 6 hours of photoshopping sped up to fit into a 90 second clip. All of these hours of work has gone into creating just one perfected image of a model.

We all know that the models that we see are fake. Some of us don't like to acknowledge this or we simply don't care. Personally, I am not against photoshopping images-- as photographers we often create a world that is more vivid and interesting than the real one that we live in! I love when videos like this come out, though, as they remind us all that models and the like are not realistic role models for us to try to emulate. Hopefully if that message is shared enough, image conscious people will not go to extremes to try to replicate photoshopped features from magazines. 

This level of editing technology is ironic - it creates a society obsessed with beauty and trying to look perfect in the real world, yet the models we aspire to can be less and less beautiful or perfect themselves now because whatever they need to look like can be created with clicks on a screen.

As photographers, our choice to distort reality works on a sliding scale... maybe we use a polarizing filter on our camera lens or adjust the color settings from standard to vivid... or maybe we spend hours photoshopping our image, as we see in this clip. To me, it's all a manipulation of the truth but it just depends how far you choose to go. For my own work, I like post-editing that accentuates the beauty I saw in the shot, without going so far as to make the beauty of that shot into something it was not when I saw it. 


​Do you think photoshopping has gone too far? How much photoshopping do you think is the right amount?

Adam Bevan's picture

Adam Bevan is a writer from London, England who has travelled to over 30 countries and continues to travel as a passion. His love of photography grew out of a business venture with a friend but continued to grow from there. He is currently working freelance while increasing the number of countries he's seen.

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So we have a choice. We can learn to retouch, hire retoucher or hire beautiful and healthy models...
People can complain about "distorting reality/beauty" all they want but all that PS distorted was how easy it is to get into photography (and modeling) business.

Easy?! 6 hours the video claims it took to edit, far from "easy". The shot, to me could have been shot cleaner, but assuming the video is a hired freelance retoucher or just not the photographer and in-house retoucher. Who knows maybe it was shot "dirty" intentionally to show their skills in retouching, but if I were to shoot it I would have spent the extra time in the field/production cleaning up the shot if possible, if not then I'd need to spend even more time in front of a computer retouching myself or hiring it out depending the project. Let's not forgot its "beauty shot" notorious (aka closeups) for being heavily photoshopped vs. further/wider angle shots like headshots, quarter body, full body etc... everything else but closeups are less photoshopped generally for most non-composite photographers. I'll repeat, I highly doubt this was easy, I know if I knew I had to spend 6 hours in front of a screen editing 1 image I'd need a very nicely compensated to medicate my insanity. Sadly this is the trend in most areas famous photogs are known for, i.e. Linsay Adler. Hopefully and it is, very slowly advertising campaigns are doing "no photoshop" so this helps to those who focus more on the production vs. the post production which is me and many others maybe you Roman.

I am not sure if I got your point or if you got mine...
I didn't say it is easy to retouch. But it is easier financially to retouch, than hire perfect model and experienced team, therefore it is easier to build portfolio and get into business.
Nothing wrong about that.

I responded to "all that PS distorted was how easy it is to get into photography (and modeling) business." I responded it was not easy. Not sure if its really financially easier too as the really good retouchers charge hundreds per hour or thousands per project (of 1 image or few images to be retouched). I still disagree being easier, it can be easier if you're very wealthy buying the best most expensive gear, and paying a retoucher charging $10k for a project. Sure, if that's your point then yes I agree but most common photographers who either retouch themselves or hires out its not easy.

Seriously, I noted that you disagree. It's your right ;)
And if you don't think it is easy now, you probably wouldn't even touch a camera in analog world :D

So you simply say it's too hard for you're average photographer to be able to retouch? It's really not it just takes lots of time practice and patience. Everything this retoucher did in this video is the basic of the basic when it comes to retouching. Anyone could do the same thing using a guide it's really not that hard

I have noticed many clients asking me to photoshop them to the extent where I do not feel comfortable. The majority of my work is headshots and real lifestyle portraiture. So I wrote my own little blog post answering my clients questions as best I could.

Funniest request I ever had was a couples shoot where the guy asked me to "enhance" his package in Photoshop. "Nothing porn star but I want to be be able to see a bulge for sure" is what he told me.

Thats a new one!

"Watch How This Editor Manufactures Beauty in 90 Seconds In Photoshop" - Fixed it for you :)

This video looks more like a retouching showcase instead of a "This is the norm in what we do." If it's not, the makeup and hair people really didn't do this model, photographer, or retoucher, any favors.

My thoughts exactly. The before image was pretty "yikes!".

Here's my praise and yet my preference.

1. First, I always admire hard work. Meticulous work, mores. So kudos to the retoucher(s)!

2. But maybe I'm missing something. It's natural beauty that always captivates my eyes and sways my heart. I spend 1-3 minutes per image and am very pleased... slight imperfections and all.

Here are a few peeks.

Natural beauty is great when you have naturally gorgeous subjects. But posting photos of naturally beautiful women with the most minor of flaws to validate an argument about natural beauty is like Bill Gates telling us money isn't really all that important. Of course not if you have all you will ever need. It's those who don't that find money and... retouching a weee more important than the rich and naturally beautiful.

Interesting point. Well described. Thank you Jon.

What I just saw was laziness on the part of the photographer and his/her crew. If the makeup on her face had been done correctly, her face would take little edits. The eye shadow would not be splashed all over her cheek, requiring such a heavy edit there. The lipstick properly applied, her hair hidden from view and on and on. Lazy. Get it right, as much as you can, in camera first and then retouching becomes less of a process. Just my $0.02

Everytime I see these videos the "models" they're using look like people plucked from the street, photographed and then photoshopped to look like what agency models look like in REAL LIFE when they show up on set.

In the COMMERCIAL WORLD of photography... the end product is what is important to the client and the person writing the check.

How you got there is only important to photographers in chat rooms.

The client could not care less! Be they street models who are coated in BONDO or Agency Models who need very little attention... THEIR LOOK is their COMMODITY, that which the client is going to write a check for.

They don't care how many languages she speaks, that her mom has three cats, that she has a Harvard Degree, can pee in a can ten feet away... THEY ARE BUYING THE LOOK! THE END PRODUCT!

Go ahead... sit down and tell a commercial client about how hard you worked to get the look right without using Photoshop.

Brace yourself, the odds are, when they are done yawning, they are going to excuse themselves and you may not get the next campaign.

THEY JUST DON'T CARE how you got there, as long as it was legal and within the budget.

What is it about photography that it engenders comments like this? "I love when videos like this come out, though, as they remind us all that models and the like are not realistic role models for us to try to emulate." My kids loved the Harry Potter books. Not a one of them had to be reminded that they couldn't actually grow up to be a wizard.

Some people are forgetting that this retoucher probably did not shoot the original image. So, the narrative around the need to shoot it 'cleaner' to save time in post is probably irrelevant as he/she most likely received the image from the photog. Also, if you are a high-end retoucher then you have high-end clients. At that level, what the client wants - the client gets if you want to continue the relationship and secure future work...

This is amazing! What's even more amazing is how many people do this to their own pictures. There's awesome Photoshop tutorials on - I have a degree in Graphic Design and I'ma afraid that people learning Photoshop will put me out of business one day!

Why would the writer feature a photo that has nothing to do with the video. I went to Rare Digital's website and that shot is nowhere to be found. They work on High End Stuff only. The image featured at the top of this article is really bad. I almost feel like the writer is trying to bite off the momentum of this video by posting his own image.

To me it looks more like a video of the consequences of choosing the wrong model

the video shows what goes into it if you want a fashion magazine style of perfect that for the most part doesn't exist in the real world. The question is as photographers do we want to show the real world or do we want to show our vision? I for one will shoot almost any woman as I find beauty in all of them. I am not saying i won't clean up some acne or make legs a little longer... The problem with this video (and stated elsewhere in the comments) is that if this was a professional shoot the make up would have been better to start eliminating some of the work. When i hand images to a model i like them to say "That is the best image of me i've seen" more so than "you are the best photoshop guy ever"

ugh... articles about this topic are basically the equivalent of beating a dead horse at this point.

In 38 years as a professional photographer, I have never had a woman walk into my studio and ask if she could pay a healthy fee for me to take a photo of her looking as she really looked... pimples, bags under her eyes and all.

Oh, there are some today who would do that to make a point, but not one REAL LIFE client of mine ever wanted to look as they really did, they often brought photos of celebrities portraits they wanted to replicate or as more than several said, "Can you make me look BEAUTIFUL!"


I get sick and tired of this boring narrative of being Photoshopped to achieve beauty is somehow obscene or STANK.

Women want to look beautiful, most women do.

Some women look fine, even BEAUTIFUL without all of the trappings, but even if they do in OUR EYES, they may not look as they always dreamed of looking and very often that is what they come to us to create, not their reality, but their fantasy.


It's not about how smart the woman is, not about how beautiful she is as a person... it is about the COMMODITY THAT IS BEING PURCHASED BY A COMMERCIAL CLIENT... AND THAT COMMODITY IS... HER LOOK!

If she is FLAWLESS... FINE! If not and that is what the PAYING COMMERCIAL CLIENT WANTS... they break out the WAX, Spirit Gum and PHOTOSHOP!

Women 'photoshop' themselves more than this in real life. This could have been a 6 hour makeup totorial and there wouldn't be any discussion about it.