Photographer Under Fire

Self-image has always been a sensitive and controversial subject, especially in regards to how it is addressed in popular media and advertisements, but for one roller girl the issue recently hit close to home. Reddit user Copywriteher took to the boards late last week to share her frustration with an unnamed photographer’s decision to noticeably alter her image. Copywriteher says that she and other derby girls from her league were excited when they were asked to participate in a local photography conference but once pictures started to come in she was shocked to see that one photographer decided to photoshop her so that she appeared much thinner than she actually was. To top it all off, the photoshop job was sloppily done. By zooming in on the image, anyone can clearly see choppy lines, blurred edges to hide mistakes, and terrible proportions. Click here to view the full sized image  (zoom in on the left side of the middle girl to see the botched photoshop job).

"I'm OK with how I look, and if a conference wants to photograph REAL roller derby players, then they should deal with the fact that they come in different shapes than a typical model," said Copywriterher (center) of this photo that she feels undermines the spirit of the sport.

“I’m OK with how I look, and if a conference wants to photograph REAL roller derby players, then they should deal with the fact that they come in different shapes than a typical model,” said Copywriteher (center) of this photo that she feels undermines the spirit of the sport.

“I’m just upset. I play roller derby, a sport where all sizes are welcomed and encouraged and where we focus on our feelings of empowerment, and building our strength. I thought taking some photos would be fun, but now seeing myself get a magazine cover treatment, I’m just angry,” wrote Copywriteher.  “I’m OK with how I look, and if a conference wants to photograph REAL roller derby players, then they should deal with the fact that they come in different shapes than a typical model.”

Since making her post, Copewriteher has subsequently ignited an, at times, passionate discussion of how roller derby has been empowering for modern women and that it goes against the arguably unhealthy representation of femininity and sexuality that the media pushes on woman of all ages. Numerous individuals have also shared similar stories of how their features or physiques has been altered in professional photographs throughout their life. For many, these experiences have generated a variety of feelings ranging from anger, to self-doubt, to embarrassment, and in some cases,  amusement. But one thing that seems to be rising is the shared opinion that the image in question is in bad taste and is not a habit the photographer in question to carry on with. “That’s foul,” said a user by the name of Onsos. “I love roller derby. I like a lot of sports, but roller derby has the added bonus of properly celebrating women’s physicality, both culturally and in play. I take my daughter, who is looking forward to taking the sport up when she is old enough. It’s a really refreshing break from the normative presentations of femininity that are thrust upon girls. Give ’em hell.” Another user named PantheraLupus felt that the picture crossed the line between retouching an image and tampering with it: “There’s a huge difference between acne and body shape. Photoshopping blemishes out like acne is completely different to photoshopping somebody to look skinnier.”

Not everyone has been as sympathetic though. Some feel that the photographer in question was completely in the right and that a big deal is being made of nothing. “This wasn’t an important roller derby match that was being photographed to be put in the local paper. In that context, it’d be inappropriate. The way OP describes this, it’s a conference that’s sort of designed to give photographers more experience. They’re not obligated to show things exactly how they happened’” said Reddit user curlyzz.

The story has also been reported on by popular news site, the Huffington Post, and has received hundreds of responses there as well.

So, derby fans, what are your thoughts on all of this? Was the retouching done in this photo harmless? Do you sympathize with how Copywriteher feels? Lets hear what skaters and photographers alike have to say on this issue!

Click here to see the original Reddit thread.

UPDATE: As more and more comments poor onto the internet regarding Copywriteher’s posts, a different picture is painted when one considers that the event in question she attended was nation wide and involved hundreds of amateur and professional photographers coming together to hone their skills. All photos taken, of which there are thousands, are subsequently uploaded to a private gallery only accessible by the photographers themselves and the subjects of their photos.  “What bothers me here is that this girl picks that one photo that is poorly edited and goes to town with it,”  said user Motionblur. “What do you call this kind of behavior? yes, you probably guessed it.”

Another user, by the name Stl314 stated: “She went out of her way to share this image with national media. Why? You don’t like it? don’t download and share it. You can be proud of your image and body type without pulling a picture from a private gallery and attempting to make it national news.”

Lesson learned I suppose. If you don’t like the idea of people altering your image, don’t volunteer for a free conference. Furthermore, be careful of what you read on the internet as “news”. Oy vey!

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