you never hear about the battle of the january issues—it's usually the september issues, which is traditionally the most important month for glossy fashion magazines ("september is the new january," remember?)—because in the magazine world, january is the dead-est month in terms of advertising, and therefore, in terms of number of pages. so for two local glossies to be the talk of the town, to be trending on twitter, to be on every news show on TV—well, let's just hope this translates into sales!
i am, of course, talking about the january 2012 issues of mega and preview (jan/feb actually for preview). i have not seen either magazine "in the flesh" (i believe they will both be on newsstands by tomorrow), i have only seen them on facebook. and the immediate reaction of people on facebook, on twitter, on blogs, on news websites, and whoever feels strongly about it is "photoshop!!!" either that or the public is shocked at how different the two women look on the cover and in person—or rather, what they looked like before "science" touched their faces.
i am, of course, talking about jinkee pacquiao on the cover of mega, and charice pempengco on the cover of preview. you be the judge (click to enlarge—but only if you want to!):
full disclosure: i used to work in mega from 1993 to 2005 (12 years!), and in the early days of polaroid and film (kids, do you know what those are?), we relied heavily on the skills of the photographer and the makeup artist to get the perfect picture. plus, we couldn't shoot hundreds of frames like you can do now and just delete! each shot must be the potential money shot. and it was only after the film was developed could we see the results, usually in a contact print (a sheet with thumbnails), which we had to loupe (look it up), or transparencies we viewed in a lightbox. a good photographer knew how to light the model right, so he got the most flattering planes and angles of her face. a good makeup artist knew how to shade and contour the model's face to create bigger eyes, a slimmer nose, killer cheekbones, and an angular jawline, and still make it look natural. yes, the magic was all done in the studio or location. any post-processing was usually done by the photographer—by hand!
then when photoshop came into the picture (pun unintended), we used it to remove "noise" that distracted from the overall effect we wanted from the photo, and to allow the reader to focus on the subject/story, especially on covers. for example, if it was a beauty story, we had to get the red veins in the eyes out, remove any blemishes on the skin, maybe even whiten the teeth. or if it was a swimsuit story, you removed any unsightly scars and bulges (i used to call it liposhop—"give her some liposhop!"), maybe even lengthen the legs a bit. but we never did it freakishly so that people would notice and comment.
but that is the nature of the beast—fashion magazines are about fantasy. you don't buy them to see "real people"—you see enough of that on the street every day or, hell, even in the mirror. even when magazines feature "real people," they're still styled and photographed in the best possible light (pun intended). but every so often, magazines will feature "real people" as they are—models without makeup, chubby girls with pretty faces—just to prove that they are "in touch" with reality. but do you get the irony?
in the last few years, i guess some photographers and creative directors have abused the photoshop app. both mega and preview have released statements admitting that they did some editing on the photos, but just the normal amount (whatever that means these days). from my point of view, i see two women who were highly styled, made up and coiffed to perfection, and lit flawlessly—as they should be by the top fashion magazines in the country. and you know what? i don't expect any less. because who cares to see jinkee and charice without makeup and in their everyday clothes? and about the plastic surgery—well, that is their choice now, isn't it?