Retouching Photos and Lives After a Natural Disaster


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On May 13, 2011, two months after a tsunami had devastated the coast of Japan, professional photographic retoucher Becci Manson headed to the country to volunteer. She traveled there with All Hands to help with the clean up, intending to do everything from removing rotting fish from buildings to piling up debris. After a week doing drudge work, she noticed that people were bringing old, damaged photos to the public baths. She knew she had the skills to fix the pictures, and had a big idea.

Manson organized her friends together on Facebook and they developed a program to start retouching photos. In the above TED talk, she details that project. It might do something to affect your perception of retouchers, who are often villified in the media for making skinny people skinnier and beautiful people more beautiful in the pages of magazines.

“There's always someone who's got something to say about how thin someone is made or how flawless someone's skin is and the effect it has on young women,” Manson told NPR. “So when I set up the project, it was nice to think we could actually do something to help someone.”

For more, check out NPR. They have built an online slider tool where you can see the before and after of the retouched photos.

—Joe Spring