As many of my readers will know, I despise using filters and heavy editing in my photography. While I don’t dismiss its value as an art form, it’s not art that I typically like to create. I love to capture raw and natural beauty because it’s closer to what I see with my eyes. Yet, I don’t believe myself or anyone will ever be able to capture the world’s beauty as it’s seen through human eyes.
No, we’re not all creatives or creative, but I’m sure we all have a definition of beauty. If your definition of beauty is an intense Hefe, high contrast and saturation with max Vignette, then don’t let my words stop you from creating what you find beautiful!
But I feel like many of us may not actually think it’s beautiful because using filters has become standard practice since the emergence of Instagram. We all want to stand out and look like we have everything under control – and the quality of your photos is one way to show this!
I’ve known far too many people – females in particular- that edit their photos to make themselves look skinnier or have nicer makeup. Instagram and Snapchat have capitalized on the desire to be “picture perfect” by pushing more and more beauty filters to their users.
I’ve tried these filters myself and never posted a picture using them because no one would find it believable! I’m not even talking about the filter that makes your lips huge; I’m talking about the filters that chisel your face, give you fake eyelashes, and remove all skin imperfections. They’re so close to being real, yet when I remove the filter, I look like my actual self and not a glorified Barbie doll.
If you like using these filters for fun or art, I see no harm in that. I also see no harm in editing out a pimple you’re really embarrassed about. However, there is a lot of harm when people use filters to dramatically change what they don’t like about themselves; it’s a method of manipulating how others see you in an effort to “fit in.”
We all know that a lot of Instagram content is fake, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but we do anyway. The fake is never going away, but we really shouldn’t care what people think. It goes back to the vast differences in the definitions of beauty. We may find Instagram filters beautiful while others don’t, but we may also find that a photo of you with no filter is even more beautiful!
Filters not only infiltrate photography, but they are also a part of other online activities like shopping, job searching, and web surfing in general. When we shop online for clothes, we often check-off boxes for the gender, size, style, and colour we want. We know what we want to see so going through everything else seems pointless. When looking for a job, we use keyword, job type, and location filters to narrow our search, yet we may miss out on the opportunities we’re looking for.
Using filters to mask imperfections and “beautify” photos is similar in the sense that we are looking through a lens and choosing what we want to see. By using photo filters, you aren’t allowing yourself or anyone to see what’s beyond the filter and, on Instagram, it’s very much a platform where you can control what others see of you.
I think the curve of obvious photo filters is phasing out unless you’re an artist. But more realistic beauty filters can be even more detrimental since you may not be able to see when a filter is being used. Often, people are not going to blatantly say they’ve used a filter or edited their photo, so we should always be mindful of the fake. If you choose to use filters, be mindful of the messages you’re sending yourself and others.
So, what’s the point of all this? Essentially, I don’t think you need photo filters to be beautiful or take beautiful photos. I do think that the “Instagram is fake” message is often preached but not supported. And I really think we should all stop caring what other people think because there will always be someone out there that likes you or likes what you do/create, but that is a whole series of blog posts waiting to be written.