Bear with me for a second while I talk about taking these pictures. I was wearing a lot of makeup and my skin is finally recovering from,and actually thriving on, it's new retinol regime. It really does look great! BUT, I was also facing a brightly lit window practically blasting my face with pure natural light, with another bright circle light designed specifically for beauty shots (remember those mall booths?) shining quite closely on my face. The effect of this much nice lighting, plus some makeup, and the aperture setting on my camera, produced the above images. My hair looks thick and shiny, my skin poreless and velvety, my lips glossy and plump. Such is the effect of lightening and blurring strategically to produce images that make faces look incandescent.

I was trying to take pictures of my earrings for a post on dealing with sensitive ears. There was no way I could use these pictures for that. 

There's a reason we think of supernatural beings (angels, ghosts, aliens) as being glowing. There is something wholly unnatural about faces this poreless and incandescent. It's just not real.

The more I learn about photography - aperture, bokeh (when you have photographs that have a sharp focus on the hero object and everything else blurs out), lighting, angles - the more I realize that even as we move away from some things like photoshop and airbrushing (and yes, I know we have a long way to go!) other ways to create certain looks in images just rise up and take their place. As society starts the slow and arduous process of questioning (and hopefully, ultimately rejecting) the prodigious use of digital editing, other tricks for creating unrealistic expectations of what people's skin and body should look like just pop up in their place.

Look at the highly Kardashian touted "Lumee perfect selfie case" which for $55 creates a flattering (and flaw obliterating) circle of light to blast all those pesky skin-like problems away (pores, texture, contouring which looks horrifying in natural light) and produce "flawless" selfies.  I want one. SO BAD.

I hate myself for it.

If I could have an artist make an oil painting of me everyday and use that for this blog I would. Shit, carve me out of marble - marble has no pores, and I wish I didn't either. I know, this is insane. But it's not new. I don't recall any of the great masters taking pains to show facial hair or pimples on their masterpieces. Our quest for "flawless" beauty must be some kind of biological impulse because it feels like it has been around forever. As long as there has been media (and by that I am contentiously including artwork) there has been a softening of the skin, a choice to use materials that are smooth. I bet if there was more to work with than oil paints they still would not have chose to show the mottled texture of their subjects skin.

Look at the pictures above, and then look at these pictures, or these ones. I haven't discovered some magic treatment. I'm wearing the exact same makeup. All that's changed is the lighting.

I guess the point of this rant is this - when you look at images, even ones that are hashtag nophotoshop or facetune or whatever - know that there are all kinds of things you can do to a face including make-up, lighting, camera aperture and gawd only knows what else that I haven't even learned about. It's ok not to look like these pictures. Sometimes I'm not even sure that I look like mine (but I try to!)

And also, if you think you want a life without pores - read the horrifying tale of Emiko in The Windup Girl, the laboratory bred companion with smooth poreless skin who's description of life without pores will leave you throwing out every pore shrinking product in your beauty arsenal.

And if you want to see for yourself just how much a face can change just by the lighting, check out this awesome video. I find the impact on her cheekbones particularly startling...