The Touching Side of Photo Manipulation

Photoshop is all too often in the news for all the wrong reasons, including images being
manipulated to make people skinnier or less wrinkly. Trying to achieve the impossible perfection. It is regularly blamed for eating disorder and causing distress. However the catastrophic events that followed the tsunami in March 2011 led a top end photo retoucher, Becci Manson, to reveal a worthwhile use for altering images.
After the initial aftermath of the horrific disaster she went to Japan for three weeks to do what she could to help those people who had been displaced from their loved ones and most valued possessions. In May, she made her way to the small town of Ofunato, in the Iwate prefecture, where the water had reached 24 meters in height and two miles in land. It was whilst she was clearing canals and removing fish carcasses that she came across abandoned photographs that had been irreparably damaged by the water and debris that had been so violent. The day before the wall of water had struck, these personal photographs were safely and privately stored within the homes of Ofunato’s inhabitants. Now, they were in the public domain, left to perish.
Becci Manson had the altruistic idea of using her skills and the skills of her colleagues to restore these images as they became repatriated with their owners. She used Facebook to build up a network of volunteers who would receive scanned copies of the photographs, which they would then painstakingly repair as best they could.
To many of the survivors these photographs were the only remaining connection they had to their past. Whilst we hear of photographs selling for extortionate amounts of money, it must be remembered that there is a higher, personal value attributed to photographs which must be taken into account before being manipulated. Although I have tried as best as I can to convey to you anout Becci Manson’s work, I can’t do it as well as the All Hands volunteer doing it herself. So below is a video clip of her TED keynote.


About Matt

Photography degree student with the Open College of the Arts.
This entry was posted in DPP, Ethics, Project 4: Reality and Intervention and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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