Your feature article (TNT, 5-25) on legislators’ wrinkles, while interesting, hardly belonged on the front page. Front-page placement implies that vanity is the largest issue of our time at the state level.
As a practicing portrait photographer with many business and government clients, I feel compelled to agree that retouching in Photoshop is routine except in passport photographs. It’s the finishing step to a portrait. The key word here is “discretion.”
I remove stray hairs and fly-aways. I routinely lighten lines and pouches under eyes – lighten, not erase. I lighten teeth and make them more even in tone. My rule is to achieve a well-rested face with no more than 10 years taken off.
Rather than a no-retouching policy, I believe in allowing discreet Photoshop retouching of official portraits. These professionals deserve to look their best in their official portrait. “Historical accuracy” might best be served by requiring that the official state portrait of each legislator be current, the one taken in that year. A legislator may choose to use a more dated portrait on personal websites or in campaigning, but that’s a personal choice.
Let’s be realistic. Who among us, when asked, would respond, “I like my face just the way it is”? Rep. Steve Kirby may be the only one so proud of his wrinkles. If asked, as legislators were, most of us would request a little touchup of our photographic portraits.