#Filterdrop: Attending to Photographic Alterations
Keywords:Photography, Digital Manipulation, Body Image, Aesthetic Attention, Epistemic Contact
It is well-documented that the alteration of portrait photographs can have a negative impact on a viewer’s self-esteem. One might think that providing written disclaimers warning of alteration might help to mitigate this effect, yet empirical studies have shown that viewers continue to feel like what they are seeing is real, and thus attainable, despite knowing it is not. I propose that this cognitive dissonance occurs because disclaimers fail to show viewers how to look at the contents of a photographic image differently. Consequently, viewers have the same perceptual experience, where the picture appears to faithfully resemble a direct visual experience of the subject, which conflicts with their changing sense of warrant. However, I argue that the degree of perceived similarity, and so contact, may be subject to change depending on what a viewer is attentive to during their viewing of an image, including subtle but unrealistic signs of alteration.
Emma Hallett, “Instagram photo filters targeted by model’s #filterdrop campaign,” BBC News, September 7,
Annie Vischer, “The Way Influencers Use Filters On Instagram Is About To Change In A BIG Way,” Grazia, February 3, 2021, https://graziadaily.co.uk/beauty-hair/makeup/sasha-louise-pallari-filter-drop/.
Amelia C. Couture Bue and Kristen Harrison, “Visual and cognitive processing of thin-ideal Instagram images containing idealized or disclaimer comments,” Body Image 33 (March 2020): 152–63, https://doi. org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.014.
Marika Tiggermann, Zoe Brown, Mia Zaccardo, and Nicole Thomas, ““Warning: This image has been digitally
altered”: The effect of disclaimer labels added to fashion magazine shoots on women’s body dissatisfaction,” Body Image 21 (April 2017): 107–13, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.04.001.
Kimberly L. Bissell, “Skinny Like You: Visual Literacy, Digital Manipulation and Young Women’s Drive to be Thin,” Studies in Media and Information Literacy Education 6, no. 1 (February 2006): 1–14.
Kristen Harrison and Veronica Hefner, “Virtually Perfect: Image Retouching and Adolescent Body Image,” Media
Psychology 17, no. 2 (March 2014): 134–53, https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2013.770354.
Belinda Bury, Marika Tiggermann, and Amy Slater, “Disclaimer labels on fashion magazine advertisements: Impact on visual attention and relationship with body dissatisfaction,” Body Image 16 (October 2015): 1–9, https://doi.org/10.101/j.bodyim.2015.09.005.
Amy Odell, “Read my lips: the rise and rise of photoediting,” The Economist, July 2, 2018, https://www. economist.com/1843/2018/07/02/read-my-lips-therise-and-rise-of-photo-editing?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/beautyreadmylipstheriseandriseofphotoediting1843&fbclid=IwAR3xXUuYWrek6POWdH3QenA8oL9050Jx54ezwrLRaQMxW4CWbpz7X8GShrM.
Fiona MacCallum, and Heather Widdows, “Altered Images: Understanding the Influence of Unrealistic Images and Beauty Aspirations,” Health Care Analysis 26 (July 2016): 235–45, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10728-016-0327-1.
Ana Sofia Elias, and Rosalind Gill, “Beauty Surveillance: The Digital Self-Monitoring Cultures of Neoliberalism,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 21, no. 1 (February 2018): 59–77, https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549417705604. Christine Lavrence and Carolina Cambre, “‘Do I Look Like My Selfie?’: Filters and the Digital-Forensic Gaze,” Social Media + Society (October 2020). https:// doi.org/10.1177/2056305120955182. Rosalind Gill, “Being watched and feeling judged on social media,” Feminist Media Studies 21, no. 8 (February 2022): 1387-92. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2021.1996427.
Scott Walden, “Transparency and Two-Factor Photographic Appreciation,” British Journal of Aesthetics 56, no. 1 (January 2016): 33–51, https://doi.org/10.1093/aesthj/ayv042.
Jonathan Cohen and Aaron Meskin, “On the Epistemic Value of Photographs,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62, no. 2 (May 2004): 197–210, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540–594X.2004.00152.x.
Dan Cavedon-Taylor, “Photographic Phenomenology as Cognitive Phenomenology,” British Journal of Aesthetics 55, no. 1 (April 2015): 71–89, https://doi.org/10.1093/aesthj/ayu098.
Dan Cavedon-Taylor, “Photographically Based Knowledge,” Episteme 10, no. 3 (August 2013): 283–97, 294, https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2013.21.
Claire Anscomb, “Look a Little (Chuck) Closer: Aesthetic Attention and the Contact Phenomenon,” British Journal of Aesthetics (July 2022), https://doi.org/10.1093/aesthj/ayab050.
Joshua P. Salmon, Heath E. Matheson, and Patricia A. McMullen, “Photographs of Manipulable Objects Are Named More Quickly Than the Same Objects Depicted in Line Drawings,” Frontiers in Psychology 5 (October 2014), https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01187.
Sky HISTORY UK TV Channel, “Meet Marina Amaral a Historical Colourist,” Sky HISTORY UK TV Channel, 2019, https://www.history.co.uk/article/meet-colouristmarina-amaral-history.
Claire Anscomb, “Why Draw Pictures that Already Exist?” TRACEY 16, no. 1 (April 2022): 15–28, 21–2.
Bence Nanay, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 7.
Paloma Atencia-Linares, “Fiction, Nonfiction, and Deceptive Photographic Representation,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70, no. 1 (February 2012): 19–30, 27, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6245.2011.01495.x.
Sophie J. Nightingale, Kimberley A. Wade, Hany Farid, and Derrick G. Watson, “Can people detect errors in shadows and reflections?” Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 81 (June 2019): 2917-43, https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01773-w.
James Elkins, ed. Visual Literacy (London: Routledge, 2007).
Geoff Cox, “Ways of Machine Seeing as a Problem of Invisual Literacy,” in The Networked Image in Post Digital Culture, ed. Andrew Dewdney and Katrina Sluis (London: Routledge, 2022), 102–13.
Sarah Riley, Adrienne Evans, and Alison Mackiewicz, “It’s Just between Girls: Negotiating the Postfeminist Gaze in Women’s ‘Looking Talk,’” Feminism & Psychology 26, no. 1 (February 2016): 94–113, https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353515626182.
Sophie J. Nightingale, Kimberley A. Wade, and Derrick G. Watson, “Can people identify original and manipulated photos of real-world scenes?” Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2 (July 2017): 30, https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-017-0067-2.
Michael Zhang, “Beauty Retouching from the Early 1900s: A Portrait of Actress Joan Crawford That’s ‘Photoshopped’,” PetaPixel, October 17, 2014, https://petapixel.com/2014/10/17/beauty-retouchingearly-1900s-portrait-actress-joan-crawford-thatsphotoshopped/.
Jasmine Fardouly and Ronald M. Rapee, “The impact of no-makeup selfies on young women’s body image,” Body Image 28 (January 2019): 128–34, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.01.006.
Emma Halliwell, Alice Easun, and Diana Harcourt, “Body Dissatisfaction: Can a Short Media Literacy Message Reduce Negative Media Exposure Effects Amongst Adolescent Girls?” British Journal of Health Psychology 16 (March 2011): 396–403, https://doi.org/10.1348/ 135910710X515714.
Rachel Cohen, Jasmine Fardouly, Toby Newton-John, and Amy Slater, “#BoPo on Instagram: An experimental investigation of the effects of viewing body positive content on young women’s mood and body image,” New Media and Society 21, no. 7 (February 2019): 1546–64, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1461444819826530.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Claire Anscomb
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).