To the client who wants us to take off 20 years and 40 pounds

Today's message is about self-love, confidence, and not taking ourselves too seriously. It's applicable for teenagers and grandmothers; men and women; introverts and extroverts; one and all. 

Erin and I both love the uniqueness of humans. Physical traits do not define who we are. How we love, how we laugh, how we interact... this is what matters. And it's what we cherish. 

This is important!

So please read, share, and comment below. 

[Today, we're featuring a guest post originally written and published on the Design Aglow blog. When I first read this, I wanted to shout "Exactly!" So we're reposting it, with permission, here.]


To the client who wants me to take off 20 years and 40 pounds,

I want you to know I understand. I think every single one of us can relate to wishing we looked different somehow. I think my arms are flabby, you think your belly is too squishy and your friend hates her wrinkles. I get it. Having family photos taken is tough.

And somewhere along the way, some idiot photographer started using the liquify tool to “magically” make a client look 20, 30, even 40 pounds thinner. And that same guy magically erased all her wrinkles in Photoshop too. He used the cloning tool to add a little more hair to her husband’s head. And voila! A perfect picture! At least, that’s what we’re supposed to think.

Well, don’t expect that crap from me. I won’t turn you into a 90 pound supermodel or edit in a thick head of hair over a bald spot. I don’t take off 20 years in Photoshop. It’s insulting to me as a photographer and it’s insulting to you as a person. We’ve conditioned ourselves to see our “flaws” when we look at photos of ourselves.

But here’s the thing… I don’t take photographs of the way people look. I take photographs of the way people love. Take a closer look at your photos and you’ll see the way your husband looks at you. It’s not hard to tell that he thinks you’re hot stuff, even after all these years. Take a closer look and you’ll see how your kids love you. Their laughter, how they hold your hand, the way they snuggle up against you.

These photos are treasures… picture proof that you loved and were loved. And listen, you’re beautiful without all that extra editing. Your husband thinks so, your kids think so. The sooner you realize that, the happier you’ll be.

So no, I won’t give your photos an extreme makeover in Photoshop. It’s my job to create authentic images that show the way your family loves and I think if you look through your gallery again with that in mind, you’ll see that I did a pretty damn good job.

the photographer who thinks you’re beautiful without a major Photoshop intervention


Letters From a Photographer is an original series by Design Aglow. Articles are meant to spark thought and conversation and be shared within our industry.

What DO we photoshop? This is a question we get asked a lot, and generally the only thing we remove without asking is acne. No one wants to remember that.

And electrical outlets. Those bug the bejeezus out of me in backgrounds! 

What do you think? Do you agree? Be part of the conversation by adding a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Lori Coleman

The daughter of filmmakers, Lori may have been predestined for a life in the creative world. She met her husband, John, while studying photography at RIT. When not creating heirlooms for her friends, family, and clients, she can usually be found in the woods or on a yoga mat. Either way, her dogs Molley and Mouse are never far away.