Category Archives: Specialist Production

9 People Pose Nude To Show What Body Diversity Really Looks Like

Time has got in the way since finishing my degree but the concept of body confidence and positive body image is something that has continued to be a strong part of my work.  I am making time now for the projects that interest me – I am ‘back on it’ and looking to make some more images and keep spreading the self love message.  Research here we come…  Some fab images in this article and series of work.


Retouching, from the view point of the retouchers!

Zack, who works in the art department at a major magazine, added that “with the exception of maybe wrinkles being smoothed out, nearly all the retouching I’ve seen or done is to correct or change a choice made by another creative in the process….[like] I once had to change a subject’s wig color–a choice by the stylist–to one that made the shot more aesthetically pleasing.” Andrew, a retoucher with 20 plus years of experience did admit that he was once asked to alter a shot of Kate Moss to “flatten out a little bit of a curve where her pants were.” He’s also lifted bust lines and smoothed butts.

Obviously it happens, but it sounds like girls’ bodies are not altered so as to be unrecognizable. Tamara, another professional retoucher with decades of experience, said of her work with health and fitness pubs, “[We aren’t] over-slimming. Maybe just pushing in a little bit here and there where the camera might have exaggerated a side, but there still is a camera and there still is lens distortion, so sometimes itʼs just correcting that.” Whatʼs also ironic is that sheʼs “fixing” a lot of bad plastic surgery to make it look more natural. Too-bright tooth laminates and ubiquitous fake-looking hair extensions are also common issues.

What everyone agreed on is that photographers generally don’t spend as much time on shoots as they used to. The prevailing attitude seems to be, as Andrew said, “‘Oh donʼt worry about that theyʼll fix it in post-[production].ʼ” Tamara said the stylists will just pin up a garment and not iron anything because they know it can be taken care of later.

But with a little twist this video, by Buzzfeed (18 Unreal Magazine Photoshop Fails) is a comical look at some of the fails that the industry puts out accidentally.

Its also interesting that the picture of Oprah Winfrey was highlighted as I used that example in my dissertation.

No Photoshop Movement – Michigan Times Article

Article by Emily Legleitner, Michigan Times.  Published 17/02/2014 which discusses the effects of companies (such as Aerie) and the effects that their ‘no photoshop’ movement may have.  Backed up by evidence from Jean Kilbourne (who has dedicated the last 40 years to studying the effects of media and advertising on body image) it discusses how these photoshopped images, although maybe only viewed fleetingly, have a lifetime effect on our thoughts subconsciously.  It touches upon the way that advertising campaigns affect men as well, through their depiction of masculinity and virility, focussing on the tougher side of men which can pose a threat to mens subconscious.   This is particularly interesting to me as it is something that has come up in group crit sessions about advertising being a subject that affects men and is not a purely female problem.

This is a good link to a New York Times opinion editorial on the subject of photoshop.


Verily magazine

Jean Kilbourne

PDF studyguide to go along with Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Me Softly 4 package on the effects of media on women.

Aleah Chapin – Maiden, Mother, Child & Crone

Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin is an artist who paints large scale pieces.  She has made several pieces that are dealing with the female form as a nude and the way that we see them.  Her paintings have won several awards.  I particularly like these ones in the Maiden, Mother, Child and Crone exhibition in the Flowers Gallery.

It would be lovely if I was to take my portraits further and to produce images to the large scale that I have (better even) and to have a whole room full of images of positive bodies.

One of the things that I did miss out of on my shooting was to photograph a woman who was pregnant (as Aleah has painted) but this is something that I will address as time goes on and the project advances.

aleah chapin installation

Naked ‘Auntie’ wins £25,000 art prize

American artist Aleah Chapin wins BP Portrait Award for portrait of nude lady called ‘Auntie’


Lens Culture 2015 Portrait Awards

Artists work that I particularly liked in this years awards:

Entering myself.

There is a host of information available to enter the competition and I found some useful pdf’s which went through everything that a judge would be looking for, as well as hints and tips on how to present your work.  Definitely a valuable document that I have printed off and put in my library!

I did enter my images from last year’s Nature Versus Nurture Portrait Project into this competition as an experiment in how entering a competition is, and it was a great learning curve.  All those professional practice lectures in how to size and present a file, making sure you are sending just what is required and in the correct format, and so forth really did come into play with this submission.

Sadly I didn’t win anything (not that I was expecting to when viewing the other artists!) but I will continue looking into suitable competitions to enter my work in.

This is my email received letting me know I did not win.

Hi Deborah - 
Thank you for entering the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2015 competition. This year we received a record number of entries from photographers in over 129 countries. This presented a real challenge for our panel of judges to narrow down the entries to just six top winners, 25 finalists and 7 Juror's Picks — but in the end, they came to a final decision. I’m sorry to say that your submission was not one of the winners or finalists chosen by the jury this year. We will be announcing the winners this week but we wanted to notify you in advance.
We are grateful for your participation in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2015 — our competitions continue to be the best way for us to discover exciting new work and share it with the world. Please be assured that just because you were not chosen as one of the top winners, it does not mean that we think your photos are not good! Because of the limited number of spots for winners and finalists, a lot of truly excellent submissions were not chosen for the final cut made by the judges. As we mentioned in an earlier email to you, our editors posted over 800 submissions to our Portrait Awards Gallery ( to be seen by almost one million visitors to We also posted editor-selected submissions to our Facebook page and reached almost four million photography lovers during the competition. The breadth and quality of this year's submissions was just astounding, we are delighted with the results.
We encourage you to continue being an active member of the LensCulture community, especially since we have a number of exciting new services we'll be introducing this summer. Thanks again for participating!
Best wishes to you,
The LensCulture Team

Body shaming in the media.

In all probability I think that this would be a huge list if I had the time to look through each link and to search for separate celebrities who have been fat shamed in the media in the last 12 months.  Instead I have just picked the top few for this post under the google search term of ‘celebrity body shaming’, to give an idea of who and why people are shamed.  It really is pretty sad that in a world screaming out for equality in everything instead people, and writers in the media, forget that people have the right to enjoy their own diverse bodies without criticism.  Health is the key – if people are healthy and happy then we need to exercise some discretion and be kind to others with our words and thoughts.

Pink, the singer, is here criticised for her weight – she looks super fit to me and very pretty.


Another article put together features the above Pink reply, and also the ‘attack’ on Kelly Clarkson by Katie Hopkins, as well as other celebs.

This video clip from youtube that features the model, Tyra Banks, talking about the fat shaming she experienced is very emotional, and the response from the women in the studio audience show just how much women are affected by this type of behaviour.

And it would seem that the body shaming has no qualms about criticising pregnant women too.  This report shows that women are shamed for being too fat, too thin (pregorexia is the derogatory term used here!), or anything in between.

Now I really love this twist on the troll’s and fat shamers.  This man was filmed at a party having fun and a dance.  Somehow it made its way onto the social media scene and the poor man was absolutely ripped to pieces and teased for being fat.  Then a wonderful thing happened – people worldwide started defending the chap and sticking up for him.  In the end the chap was traced and a huge party was thrown for him!

What I find sad about all this body and fat shaming is that people fat shame themselves.  It seems to be a ‘normal’ part of life to be criticised for your body shape and weight, with some teens giving up on feeling good about their bodies, perhaps forever!  I came across a teen acronym that is currently being used – DUFF – and the phrase on a t-shirt saying “I’m somebody’s DUFF”.  What does it mean?  Well the acronym is for the saying “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.  How sad that a label needs to be put on someone in a group of friends.  Its almost like saying you should only be friends with people who look like your body shape or else your only purpose is to make the slimmer people look better!  If this is the type of teen talk that is going on then its time to move, and fast, to educate these people on diversity and kindness to other humans!


Its not just women celebrities that are criticised.  Texas Ranger MLB star, Prince Fielder, received huge amounts of hate and body shaming for this image.


This is an interesting article to finish with by Jessi Andricks on Body Shaming.  Jessi is a health coach, yoga instructor and health blogger.  She says in the article:

Treat your body kindly. Nurture it and love it. Feed it with nourishing food and movement. Do things that make you feel good on a deeper level and you’ll notice the surfaces changes don’t matter quite as much. 

Drop the ideas of perfection.Tell your body it is beautiful and absolutely, perfectly, imperfect. These are your unique qualities and traits that you deserve to be proud of. 

Look at yourself and notice the things that you love, not the things you hate. Focus on the positive and the negative won’t seem as prevalent. 

Take action now and do one thing today to quit the body shaming and start living your life.


I’ve recently been looking at the subject of body shaming in a little more detail with reference to my project on ‘real women’ and the possible harmful effects of body enhancement using photoshop (or other editing software) in the media.

There are many cases of body shaming that go on daily, from newspapers that criticise celebrities for being overweight, underweight, having pimples, looking tired, having grey hair, etc.  Sometimes it comes under the guise of being used as being aspirational to help people – possibly to lose weight, or have plastic surgery, etc.  Whatever the reason I feel that to make another person feel uncomfortable/unhappy in their own body is an unkind thing to do.

This article from Ellie Woodward, for Buzzfeed, has some really good examples of body shaming of celebrities in the media, and their responses.

and this one

My current photography project has profoundly changed the way i think and feel about people.  I have journeyed deep into my own mind to consider how I use instant judgement to make decisions about what a person is like, and how they live and whether I want to interact with them, without even knowing them.  It has changed the way I look at people as I hadn’t realised how superficial we are (I am!) as human beings in that we judge a person on what they are wearing and how their body looks rather than their personal traits and achievements.  Its a difficult thing to admit to, but the more you realise you are doing it the more you are able to change your behaviour.  I’ve corrected myself many times these last few months, and in the process have had many happy chats with people that I would never have interacted with before – my life is happier for having changed my attitude.

Part of the reason for doing my ‘Real Women’ photography project is to provide inspirational images for women to see what real bodies are like, and that all bodies are not the same, and that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ methodology for body shape and size and that we all have the right to look different and feel good looking different.

I have been awed and humbled by the women that have selflessly allowed me to photograph them as bare as they dared to provide inspiration for other women.  Rather than being a project that was a ‘fine art’ project about nude women’s bodies being viewed sexually, these images are aimed for a women’s gaze and more a bonding of sisterhood.  These brave ladies are not usually behind the camera, all have the usual insecurities about how people will view them, and yet each has bravely stepped forward and said … “This is me, I am a real women and I am proud of that.  Be proud to be you too.”

I came across this poem, The Journey, by Mary Oliver, which I found really inspiring.  It could be used as a metaphor for many different things/journeys in life, and in my mind it fits perfectly with the journey of feeling happy in your own skin.

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice—

though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!” each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,

though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, 

and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice which you slowly recognised as your own,

that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

determined to do the only thing you could do—

determined to save the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver