Seems just like yesterday, the age of innocence, the time before Valencia and X-pro, and the immense changes they’ve brought to the landscape of photography. It’s amazing to think that in a just a few short years, a simple app can change so much of our routine when it comes to social media and sharing. On top of that, it isn’t even just our routine that has been forever altered, but possibly also our preferences, our standards, and even our measure of art and beauty.
These days, you would be hard-pressed to scroll through your social media feed without seeing photo after photo after photo tagging some kind of post-processing app. These are desaturated photos of random objects, or sharpened photos of food, or over-saturated landscapes. More and more common are perfectly edited photos of faces with no blemishes, let alone pores. It’s like people can no longer share anything without first smothering it in filters in the assumption that filters make it look artsy or pretty or cool; that filters make it better.
The truth is, there is probably no soul in the Twenty-first Century world that hasn’t used a filter. And how could anyone resist really. A lot of them are fun and pretty. But have they forever skewed our perception of beauty, and even our standard of reality?
One thing that is so addictive about filters is scrolling through them to see which one fits your photo the best. This becomes something like a game, with an all-important result, especially since the outcome will be another image representing you in the online world. And it has to be cool and perfect, just like you – or how you show your life to be.
Thus, while filters are meant to be simply for fun, they actually become indicative of a new global trend plaguing society: Our need to appear perfect, our need to keep enhancing, sometimes to the point of being unrealistic. They are another ingredient enabling our obsession with image and appearance, instead of a tool that helps us in embracing and accepting reality. They allow us to be content presenting something idealised online, instead of substantiating it with facts. At the same time they make us discontented with real appearances, thus devaluing the truth.
We have gotten so used now to seeing everything as filter-perfect that a filter-perfect life becomes the expectation for many. It becomes the standard by which we live for. In this aspect, our obsession to appear perfect no longer stay in the digital realms but have bled out into real life.
Filters are nifty little tricks that add spice to any other regular photography app. They’re cute and fun, and are meant to enhance photos, whether it be colour, exposure, blemishes, or what have you. But they should never be mistaken for better; they should never be mistaken for necessary. Our lives, our faces, our selves in its unedited form look great enough as they are; no filters needed.