Photo Editing Helps Some, Hurts Others

Thursday, November 20th 2008, 8:07 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

For a while, doctoring photos was only popular with snapshots of the rich and famous or folks trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot, but now, everyday people are altering reality.

When Theresa Newman's father passed away from oral cancer, she was devastated. To make the situation worse, she realized she didn't have a single photo of the two together.

She took a picture of her and his friend to a photo retoucher and made an unusual request.

"I have a picture of my dad and Katie," Newman said. "I would like to take Katie out of the picture and put me in."

About a week later, Newman had a brand new treasure of her past.

"I totally lost it," Newman said. "It looks exactly like we actually sat together for the picture."

Photo editing is big business with people paying professionals anywhere from $20 to $150 per hour to perfect portraits, but these days, even amateurs can have their hand at it.

"The most extreme kind of things are when you actually have the impulse to remove people who were at events so that, at least as far as the photograph is concerned, they no longer are there," said Professor Chris Johnson of California College of the Arts.

That is exactly what worries family psychologist Alan Entin, who uses photos as a tool in therapy sessions. He said alterations may seem harmless.

"When you start to alter family photographs, you're really altering family history and the future," Entin said.

Advanced photo editing tools can still cost several hundred dollars, but anyone can get consumer versions for about $100 less.