To Edit or Not to Edit? Mum Raises a Debate by Retouching Her Baby Daughter

To Edit or Not to Edit? Mum Raises a Debate by Retouching Her Baby Daughter

Retouching and photography have always gone hand-in-hand, but what are the possible implications, if any, for publicly sharing retouched images of your baby daughter?

For better or worse, there is no doubt that the rise of social media has impacted our lives. Equally, the instantaneous nature of it has raised questions about privacy or lack thereof, and what is acceptable to be shared and shown to the wider public when it comes to personal photographs. But, privacy concerns aside, what about airbrushing photographs of your baby daughter? 

Danielle Wall, a U.K. blogger and mum of beautiful 11-month-old baby Isla Rose, admits that she airbrushes her daughter's social media photographs that are posted as a thanks for local businesses sending free items for her baby to wear and use. Wall admits that her baby is photogenic but brands deserve to receive carefully staged and retouched images, albeit with minimal changes, such as "removing blemishes like milk spots, redness, or a runny nose," so as not to completely alter her appearance but rather make the photographs appear more professional, according to The Sun newspaper.

Rose's life is being documented on her Instagram account, which Wall uses to showcase personal moments as well as to promote clothing and items Rose has received in return for posted images. Parents have always faced backlash or criticism of their chosen parenting methods, and as such the debate whether to edit or not to edit your young child's photographs is a heated one. On one hand, as a photographer you may wish to remove non-permanent distractions, such as spots or redness on the skin, in order to create a realistic yet flattering photograph of one's child, but on the other hand who's to say where's the limit?

I myself have been faced with this dilemma because sometimes babies, just like adults, have minor blemishes, and by removing those I don't drastically alter the baby's appearance but rather enhance it. One may argue that this shouldn't be done without the permission of the child, which of course is impossible, but what about commercially driven photographs? If the sole purpose of the photograph is to raise awareness of a brand and create new sales, does that become a game changer?

What are your thoughts on this subject? Have you been faced with this dilemma yourself?

Lead image by Alex Pasarelu via Unsplash, used under Creative Commons.

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Previous comments

Don't anybody retouch a photo of me. Just let me touch up my makeup before the photograph...

I once watched a tutorial by Chelsea Northrup, retouching a portrait of her teenage daughter. It made me feel weird. She was removing pimples, some purple below her eyes because she was tired, yet saying she wanted to keep a natural look. She didn't polish everything, but I still felt uneasy watching a mother retouching her child's picture. On some level it's like not accepting who your child is. But she did it without a second thought, which scared me a little bit. Maybe I'm being overdramatic, but that's how I felt. I mean if there is a grain of rice on her cheek, sure remove it. But so much done on a family portrait, that's just for you and immediate friends maybe, that's just weird.

imagecolorado's picture

The non-issue issue that seems so popular to the photography police.

It's pretty simple. It's her child, it's her photograph, she can do what ever she wants with it.

Unless you have a contractual agreement to not retouch a photo, it's nobody's business. If you do have an agreement, it's only the business of the people you have an agreement with.

No other opinions are of relevance.

Jon Dize's picture

Retouching is like water... a pint quenches one's thirst, 16 pints results in a drowning. Drink up my friends... drink up!

Tony Teofilo's picture

Ridiculous baloney. Debate? What right-minded parent, given the choice, would leave boogers and snot in their kids photos? When you have kids in school, cold / flu season lasts from August to June. And no, I don't have the order of those months mixed up.