Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

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The importance of Pride

So this weekend was PRIDE weekend in London…and I feel it needs to be celebrated! July is also PRIDE month, and it is also something I feel very strongly about. I feel it’s important to acknowledge how far our society has come and how it has changed over the years.

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First off, I would like to clear the air of something: I am not gay, nor do I really fall anywhere on that spectrum of sexuality. At least, I wouldn’t say I would. I am pure hetero and so while PRIDE does not hold as significant a place in my own being, I am very proud to live in a society where everyone is welcome and where love is, quite simply, love. I do not believe that people ‘need’ labels but I also appreciate that many people like to have labels as a way of identifying themselves. Being the lovey dovey ball of equality that I like to think I am, as long as you are happy and you are healthy, then keep on doing you!

The power of PRIDE

It is no secret that the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) have had a very rough time of things throughout history: In some parts of the world this is still seen, where those who are gay are seen as ‘sinful’, ‘unnatural’ and even ‘disgusting’ by some societies and cultures. However, as people became more understanding and more accepting of these different sexual orientations, society as a whole began to view them in a new light. PRIDE is a way for society to celebrate how much has changed and every year these changes are becoming more and more plentiful. Granted, it may be a slow process at times, but as long as we continue moving forward then we are moving in the right direction!

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Why is this important?

I am a strong believer that people should never feel embarrassed or ashamed of who they are as a person. I only have two rules when it comes to sexuality: 1) It must be legal and 2) there must always be consent. Granted, these two things go hand in hand…if there is no accepted consent, then this is can not be legal, and that is when I have a problem with it. I am all for self-expression and self-discovery and I appreciate that this is not always a quick process. I am a very open-minded person and (I like to think) I do not judge people based on what their sexual preference is: You like whips and chains? Go for gold. You want to wait for marriage? Good on you! You want to dress up as a giant panda and have sex with other people dressed as foxes and badgers? You do you Boo. I believe that this is important to acknowledge because, whether we like to admit it or not, our sexual orientation makes up quite a large part of our identity and is something that should be talked about more in society. I am not saying we need to have sit down, in depth discussions about what everyone likes done to them in the bedroom, but I also don’t think that people shouldn’t celebrate their love simply because it is not considered the societal norm of the time.

PRIDE is also important because it helps to celebrate something that is very rarely seen in the news: Love. Pure and simple love. The news is always full of such horrible and depressing stories that it can be hard to see any good in the world half the time, and the media like to create panic and fear in society, because then we continue to buy papers and listen to the news so we can see if these things will ever end. But I think PRIDE allows everyone, in every nation and (mostly) every country, to celebrate all that we have in common with each other rather than the differences. I may not understand what it is like to be attracted to someone of the same gender, but I do understand love. I understand, in my hopeless romantic way, that everyone has someone out there for them and that should never be forgotten.

Can we progress more?

Absolutely. Society is always changing and with every new generation there is more discussion about what it means to be human. In recent years, the discussion around gender especially is becoming more and more prominent in society. The idea of being ‘gender fluid’ or even ‘gender less’ is no longer such an abstract concept, because we now live in a society where ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things’ are becoming more intertwined. One of the ways society lately is accepting this concept was when the MTV Movie Awards did away with ‘Best Actress’ and simply had ‘Best Actor’, even more fitting that Emma Watson who founded the HeForShe campaign won it for her role in ‘Beauty and the Beast’!

Image result for emma watson mtv gifsG’warn girl!

Final thoughts

What I would like to say to everyone, is that you should never be ashamed of who you are. I wish I had learnt this lesson when I was younger because it would have helped me avoid some truly horrific years of self-loathing and bad habits. Love should always be celebrated and no matter who it is that you love, celebrate that! I also don’t mean love in the strict romantic term, as one of my ‘Great Loves’ is actually my best friend! Love each other, and treat each other with understanding, respect and an open mind. Treat everyone how you would hope to be treated, and if peop

 

le can not do that for you, then you don’t need those kinds of people in your life.

Image result for pocahontas walk the footsteps of a stranger

What does PRIDE mean to you? Let me know in the comments, and follow me for more discussions and debates.

T xx

The devil is in the detail

I have commented on copyright infringement in regards to video games before in some of my previous posts, but I have been thinking lately about what this means for other creative mediums. In particular, can fashion be protected under copyright law? In this day and age, with 3D printers, online shopping and very skilled seamsters cheap knock-ff of very expensive and popular items can be found across the globe in attempt for these people to make a quick bit of easy cash. In 2015 EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market conducted a study that found that 9.7% of all items on the market were counterfeit, and as a result accounted for around €26.3 billion of revenue lost every year. While it may not be a mainstream issue, it is clearly a huge problem for those who wish to work within such an industry.

Why else does this matter?

In the 2006 movie The Devil wears Prada, Meryl Streep’s character has a little speech about why fashion matters and the end punch line is that it all matters, because you live your life in it. We spend every day wearing clothes, that while we do not think are overly important, they still say who we are: Our personal style helps to create first impressions to those we meet and how we carry ourselves through society. Trends in fashion also reflect the issues of society at any given time: punk rockers dressed the way they did to silently protest against the conformity seen throughout the rest of society, just as vegans can now wear clothing that has little to no impact on the environment and causes no harm to animals. As much as we don’t want to admit that we care about ‘fashion’, we all care about style in that we all care about how we dress ourselves, even if it is only for the feeling of power that is gives us to wear what we like, how we like and when we like.

Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meister) in Gossip Girl

How does the law approach it?

As with everything to do with law, interpretation is everything. Lucky for us, fashion is all about interpretation and based on the statute alone, fashion is not actually mentioned under the Copyright, Patents and Design Rights Act 1988. Under this law, a creative medium needs to fall within one of the categories within the legislation and while there is some leeway as to how the courts label fashion, it is most likely to fall within the definition of ‘artistic craftsmanship’. Now this is not really helpful, but thankfully there is a LOT of case law to refer to in order to try and make a decision.

In Hensher v Restawhile, the House of Lords stated hat a prototype for a distinctive three-piece lounge suite, which was intended for mass production, was not artistic although the Lords differed in their reasons as to why. Then there was a case about a baby’s cape which was held not to be artistic because there was no intention to create an artistic work, just as a patchwork bedspread was not deemed to be artistic because although the designs were “pleasing to the eye” they were not sufficiently creative. This has been discussed in fashion relevant case law where sweaters and cardigans were held not to be artistic. Although the items in question had been displayed in the V&A Museum, they were exhibited as examples of developments in fashion rather than as works of art. One case in recent years that has also addressed this issue was related to the storm trooper helmets from the Star Wars movies, where the High Court held that the helmets were not artistic because their purpose was not aesthetic. The Supreme Court later held that the helmets were not sculptures, and could not be protected in that way either, which brings to attention the need for aspects of fashion to be protected from copyright infringement.

The majority of cases seem to show that there is a lot of debate over whether fashion can count as ‘artistic’: as a rule of thumb it seems the work must be aesthetically appealing to the general population or must have been created as an artistic work. To me, art and an ‘artistic’ creation should make you feel something. Now this may be confusing to those who are interested in fashion: How anyone can look at Charlize Theron in that gold Dior dress, or stare at a pair of Louboutin high heel courts and not see the art in them might as well be dead inside.

Image result for j'adore gold dress                                   Charlize Theron in the Dior J’adore perfume advert

On the other hand, “craftsmanship” is potentially easier to meet. Knitting and tapestry-making have been treated as crafts, usully on the basis that they are one off creations that were intended for artistic work. In Hensher v Restawhile, Lord Reid and Viscount Dilhorne said that the requirement for craftsmanship implies that a work must be hand-made whereas Lord Simon held that “craftsmanship” cannot be limited to handicraft and that the word “artistic” in itself is incompatible with machine production. This therefore suggests that if a designer is to make a one-ff, limited edition piece of haute couture clothing that is not designed to be mass-produced, then this could potentially be protected under ‘craftsmanship’ and thus protected by copyright. But what does this mean for mass-produced clothing?

In short, the UK is still pretty slow on the protection available for fashion under copyright law. There have been many debates and papers on what can be done about this, with many of them pointing towards the European model of an open list: In France, Germany and even in the US, any work which is original can be protected by copyright. In France, the threshold for originality is a work which “bears the stamp of the author’s personality” and in Germany copyright protects “personal intellectual creations”. This allows for a much smaller threshold to be met by designers and as such less chance of them being copied without the author’s consent. It also means that there is no need for long and complex case law or debate around the issue as it is simply stated within legislation and only needs to be discussed when it needs to clarified on a large scale. This appears to be not only the simplest option for designers, but also the easiest way for the UK intellectual property offices to keep an eye on potential infringements on the open market.

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Here today, gone tomorrow

One potentially reason why there is no real need for there to be protection for fashion is because fashion is always changing: What is fashionable this week will most likely be forgotten about in a months time. Fashion is a constantly evolving aspect of society and while trends may come and go, the fashion industry is constantly in a state of innovation and trying to create pieces that have never before been seen. Trends are only meant to last a few years at the most, as anytime after that they either become iconic for the time period, or they become cringe-worthy (in some cases they can be both!).

What do you guys think? What would you want to see within the fashion industry?

T xx