13. Realistic vs Illustration

In this post, I will talk about the similar functions between the photoshopped advertisement that I’ve collected and how it is different from illustrated version.

Photoshop base is more into realistic style.
Those are few of the photoshopped advertisements that attract me.I’m more into these advertisement that show awareness than fashion advertisement, it is quite straight forward in visual aspect but do let me think twice about the issue. I already shown some in my previous posts but here are some others that I personally like it.
17-aging-anti-smoking-ad (1)1-stop-smoking-ad-by-ayalmeir  maxam 4-quit-smoking-ads-posters4d9ea6f5e28191c7ef5be1577d27f837lifebuoydog
Semiotics Terminology can be seen in the photos above.
All of the photos above are going for surreal style because to show awareness, is better to relate the image objects with the reality but in a twisted way so that it can let the audience understand easily on what that certain object represent and think twice of what that certain object mean when it being place in this way or combine with other elements.

One of the example from the first photo, we know that ‘secondhand smoke’  means non-smoker who breath in toxic-chemical from cigarette. The photo show that the kid’s ‘second hand’ holding a cigarette, which telling the audience that kids literally still smoke if you smoke because they are inhaling the toxic chemical that released by your cigarette.

The third photo is quite interesting too, indexical sign can be seen in here, it send the message to the audience in a tricky but interesting way. It shows the detail of a place and people inside the tooth, at first I was distracted by the beauty of it’s visual and did not think about the message it want the audience to receive but the words on the bottom right bring me back to track. It says “Don’t let them stay” and the word stay in here means decayed (the sound of ‘stay’ and decayed’ in Chinese are similar) which is telling the audience to avoid tooth decay. In here, a small sentence also plays a big role in sending the message (ads by a toothpaste company).

Same goes to the last photo of that pug that looks like bread, it wrote “You eat what you touch” which means that if you eat after you touch a certain thing without washing your hand properly, you are literally eating that thing (ads by a soap company).

As you can see, each of them contain an object’s image that act as signifier (any material thing that signifies – words,images or expression) which also signified the audience with their concepts (awareness of…) so I really like this kind of advertisement , it shows a creative way to tell the audience , it’s fun and interesting to see and think.

So,what about graphical illustrated advertisement?
When I browse through Google for awareness ads in graphical illustrate base , the results were all still in Photoshop base , illustrate ads can be seen mostly in products advertising because the style is more into colorful and abstract style which is not suitable to show serious awareness.
Based on some research by Mike Vito and Louis Perrotta, bright colors and creative shapes are most likely to gain more attention since people tend to see visual first (Mike,V and Louis,P ,2006).

1232441253513395 1244091253296169  lake_0

I find the third image quite interesting, the style is like what we can see in children’s book since it is about an ad about safe guarding children from websites to prevent ‘things’ in internet to ruin them (notice on the left, there’s a soldier going to shoot a guy). For me, this image kind of a combination of photoshop and illustration , everything is colorful and imaginary graphics and then there’s a realistic humans which stands out from the image.


This is still consider as fantasy to me since it is based on a Marvel comic. Compare to other breast cancer ads, I prefer this idea, the graphic is simple but it does convey a message clearly in an interesting way- “even super woman can get breast cancer”. The downside is, people who doesn’t know about this comic, wouldn’t understand it.

After observing all the photos above, I feel like normally this kind of illustration ads hardly convey a message clearly compare to Photoshop.
As for Photoshop base, the visual is hard to gain any attention if put as poster aside with illustration base but it is more ‘clean’ and realistic for the audience to understand the concept/message.

For “realistic” visuals, people can “relate” to realistic depictions better than to abstract ones, which is in turn probably a function of their imagery value regardless of their specific content. (John R.R , 1982)

Webneel(n.d.). 30 Brilliant Anti Smoking Advertisements for your inspiration – Best Posters and Campaigns. Available at: http://webneel.com/30-brilliant-anti-smoking-advertisements-your-inspiration-best-print-ads-and-posters [Accessed on 24th June 2015]

John R.R , (1982), VISUAL IMAGERY: APPLICATIONS TO ADVERTISING, Association for consumer research. Available at: http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=5909 %5BAccessed on 20th June 2015]

The University of Vermont(n.d.), Semiotic Terminology. Available at: http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/semiotics_and_ads/terminology.html %5BAccessed on 24th June 2015]

Dr.Brian(2012),Visuals in Advertising, WordPress.Available at: https://smartamarketing.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/visuals-in-advertising/ %5BAccessed on 24th June 2015]

Mike,V. and Louis,P. (2006),Attention In Advertising, Berkeley EECS. Available at: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~stellayu/artvis/project/ad/index.html %5BAccessed on 24th June 2015]


12. Value of a photoshopp-ed photo

Previously, I was posting about how and why Photoshopped images being used in advertising.
It let viewer to see the ‘ideal’ or even manipulated the ‘reality’ but give a clear and strong message to the viewer.
So, what about the value of an Photoshopped image?

There’s a lot of photographers who manipulate photos into fantasy style and make a living from this kind of technique.

One of the famous photographer that makes a lot of surreal photos- Erik Johansson.
He inspired by great surrealist artist – SalvadorDali and René Magritte and he self learn in photography and retouching.
He works for a lot of famous companies such as Google, Adobe, Microsoft and so on.
Below are few of his artworks,
bild8 bild1 bild5bild7
I really love his works , the realistic and imaginary objects/actions were well combined together.
He mentioned in his interview with the creation project that each elements in the photos are taken individually by him and piece it together.
If the objects can be taken in a better lighting , it creates a pretty photo and when it combine with others, it shows more realistic view.
As you can see from his works that the photo he create are mostly related to reality’s object and twisted their logic because he usually get his inspiration from things around him in daily life.

Try to see ideas in everything you see, question logic. It’s also a lot about being able to realize it and in the end that is just about spending a lot of time in Photoshop learning from your mistakes (Erik.J ,2014).

In the end, this shows that one still have to let Photoshop correct your ideas because things that you imagine wouldn’t look the same in reality. Photoshop able the user to combine and see whether it fits , if not, correct it with lighting or combine with other elements. Even it fits, one still have to keep on trying because each elements can provide a different type and feels of the image.

Unlike the WWF photos that I’ve shown in my previous post, Erick mentioned that he don’t really add hidden meanings in his artworks, he focus more on visual aspects and the images that reflected his thoughts (Erik.J ,2014).

So I guess it’s more up to the viewer to see the message in that sense. When I would read children’s books as a kid, I rarely read the text. I just wanted to look at the pictures and create my own story. People should be able to do the same with my pictures. I merely want to give it a title and not talk too much about the message of the picture (Erik.J ,2014).

Even thought is more on aesthetic view, one photo still can tell a lot of story to different people depends on their perspective view.
Now,let’s stick back to ‘value’.  In my opinion, his artworks contain a high value because he took a lot of time on creating one photo , months to think of an idea and collect materials and after that,took hours to edit them together. His editing skills used in those artworks are quite advance too, he understand how the light and shadow works and make the objects seem to blend in and give a realistic looks. The other thing that caught my attention is that his ideas are creative and unique, element inside are ordinary but he twisted the logic. I couldn’t see any message from those artworks but I felt ‘wow’ the moment I sees it.

So, after seeing all the photos above, what do you think about the photo below?
Does it provide any ‘value’ to you?

When lecture shown me and my classmates the photoshopped image above by a Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann that sold for rm117,000.00 in Hong Kong (Andrew, S. ,2008), my classmates shown a huge shock and disappointed reaction. I can understand and expected those reactions the moment I saw this.
I am proud that a Malaysian artist can sold this much for an artwork but I couldn’t accept it, I couldn’t appreciate the artwork.
It’s not about how this result can be easily achieved in Photoshop , is just that I couldn’t understand and sees the value in this piece of artwork. Not only I don’t get the idea or message, I don’t even feel anything from the aesthetic view.


Andrew, S. (2008). Whither Malaysian art?. The STAR Online. Available at: http://www.thestar.com.my/story/?file=%2F2008%2F11%2F23%2Flifearts%2F1838390 %5BAccessed 19 Jun. 2015].

Johansson,E. (2011). Impossible Photography. TED. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/erik_johansson_impossible_photography?language=en [Accessed 21 Jun. 2015].

Mark (2014). Interview with Erick Johansson. ShotKit. Available at: http://shotkit.com/interview-erik-johansson/ [Accessed 21 Jun. 2015].

11. Photoshop ads give a deep emotion

Previous post show that Photoshop used  to edit the lighting and beautify the models into more ‘ideal’ looks, to manipulate the reality. In here, Photoshop not only use to create/edits ‘ordinary’ objects for advertising.
With the Photoshop, why limit one to only ordinary ideas that we can see in reality? why not unleash our imagination and create scenes that we can only see in dreams  ?
In here, I will be talking about how and why Photoshop use to fantasize ads.

Example can be seen from a famous animal and environment awareness ads- World Wild Life (WWF);

116272_1333972766_large35aa494b884b72a64faf84936e230a3eenhanced-buzz-wide-12722-1375030600-7WWF-1855fadacd57273bba88643fc078ec85b7   WWF-49  plastic-01_aotw

Without Photoshop help, how do they achieve this realistic fantasy style? Harm a real animals in order to achieve this? Then what’s the point of showing animals awareness?


Photoshop plays an important part for my course too. Above is one of my photo montage from my previous Pixel,Image and Sound’s project, without the software, how can I easily achieve this result?

Let’s compare one of them,
b13fe03e7cc3926004c6e95afda4b593 6f39030cfa63ecfc2c0968ba037d0eca
Which one ‘hits your heart’ more? The exists mounted deer head or the manipulated image of a baby?
To me, the left one makes me feel that , “Oh,it’s just another mounted deer head for decoration” , because this object had become ‘normal’ for us and wouldn’t think further.
While the right one turned the situation and makes me think deeply, “What if the deer that got hunted and mounted was my baby?”.

All of the images above are fake, of course, no animals nor humans were harmed to make these photos.
The main reason to create all these is to give a strong warning and feelings to the people, to make them think why the editors compose these objects in the images, to make them aware of the situation that is happening in reality and it achieved these goals.


Thomas,M.(2012).WWF Bluefin Tuna-Panda .CS Society. Available at:  http://www.creativeguerrillamarketing.com/guerrilla-marketing/the-32-most-creative-wwf-ads/ [Accessed on 19 June 2015]

Ryan,L.(2010).The 32 Most Creative WWF Ads .Creative Guerrilla Marketing. Available at: http://pancho.cgsociety.org/art/cgi-lightwave-3d-tuna-fish-modo-wwf-photoshop-photography-xsi-thomas-mangold-bluefin-gorilla-1045222 [Accessed on 19 June 2015]

10. Reality?

People blame Photoshop for manipulating the ‘truth’ in photography, but is it really the software fault?
No, is not. What we should blame is the ‘ethic’ within the editor.

Even without editing, do you think you are seeing  ‘reality’ in a photo?
No. Every smart phone, compact camera and DSLR have ‘settings’ , even is in ‘default’ setting, it already changed some of the resolution,noise, lighting and shadow, it manipulate the ‘reality’ itself.
Just like the magazine cover I talk about it in my previous post, the crews need to style the objects/models and adjust the lighting before taking a photo, is that even consider ‘reality’? The lighting and looks were all ‘edited’ before in reality.

Some might say they want to take or see a photo of the truth they see in reality.
Unfortunately, even your eyes don’t see reality.
Recently, there was a dress photo being spread around in the internet and everyone was making a fuss about it.
This even got reported on news.

Some see the dress color as blue + black while others see it golden + white.


It was just the lighting that played with out brain and sight. Over exposed = Golden+White, Under exposed = Blue+black. Illustration below is the explanation for it.

This can even related to media news, can you trust the news reported even they provided photos and videos as evidence?
Can a photo even tell the whole story?

….photography is a form of art, and art’s purpose is definitely not to show “reality” as it “really” is. (Solic,M. 2015)

I agree to what he said. To me, art is to spread message/meaning , to make people think, to appreciate what they see and feel, and also to show them what they ‘really’ want to see. Everyone have different point of views, so one photo can be seen differently by everyone.

Other than that,many thinks that Photoshop is the first tool to edit the photos but in the past, there were actually a lot of photos being edit and manipulate.

Around 1860, in this portrait, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a composite of Lincoln’s head and the Southern politician John Calhoun’s body.

This photo used a cut and paste technique to brings a family together and form into a family photo , they all weren’t together in reality during the photo session , it’s basically just cut out the 3 people form the left and paste on top/overlap the woman on the right.


Solic,M.(2015) Why Complaining About Photos Being Photoshopped Makes No Sense (To Me).Peta Pixel.Available at: http://petapixel.com/2015/03/10/why-complaining-about-photos-being-photoshopped-makes-no-sense-to-me/ [Accessed on : 18 June 2015]

CBS News(2015)Is this dress blue and black or white and gold?.CBS News.Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blue-black-white-gold-dress-color-debate-goes-viral/ [Accessed on : 18 June 2015]

9. Photoshop behind advertising

In my previous posts, I mentioned that Instagram act as a medium but also a small tool to edit basic color and lighting in photos. To go more advance in photo editing, Photoshop is one of the most use software since it provides more tools compare to other software.

During in class exercise and assignments for my major, whenever we need to edit photos, we straight away open Photoshop and never though about using other software. We need it to enhance our photos , manipulate it or even create an digital art using this software.

Photoshop also acts an important tool for photographers especially for advertisement.
From what I observe , most of the photos/videos for advertisement had been altered before.
Ever wonder why our McDonald burger doesn’t looks the same in their advertisement? McDonald Canada made a video to show behind the scene for the photo.

After a long process of styling and photo shooting, they retouch using Photoshop in the end.
See how long and how many people needed to make a burger looks good in an image?

The moment I search “Popular Photoshop advertisement” and “Photoshop ads”, the results are mostly related to fashion magazine, this shows how this software widely used in fashion advertisement.
The same process as the McDonald can be seen for magazines photos.

Everyone can be a super model using Photoshop.

Why go through so much problem and use Photoshop to make a ‘fake looks’ for advertising?
Lets take a look in the picture below ,
Photoshop-ed vs Original, which one you prefer to see in your magazine cover?
I prefer photoshop-ed.
I do agree that everyone is beautiful in their own way but not everyone can accept this. It is harsh, but this is reality. Advertising is to promote to everyone in a convincing and perfect way to gain attention in order to benefit their company/brand.

Carolyn Kitch, journalism professor also explains that magazines were…

“dealing in ideals rather than reality,” (Amanda,F., n.d.)

I also found out that there’s a lot of people dislike photoshop-ed advertisement , there’s even some want to ban photoshop ads. It is true that some companies overused photoshop (edit into tiny waist, giant eyes , overly long legs) but if it just for colors, lighting, some small and detail retouch , why not?

Without Photoshop, it can brings huge impact for the photographers. Without the software, how can they have a better lighting photos? how can they force or find a model with a body shape that want? how can they have a background they want? travel all the way to that certain location just for few photos?
Just for one magazine cover and it costs more of their time, finance and efforts.

Do you prefer a truthful photo or a pretty photoshop-ed photo?


Amanda,F.(n.d.)In Defense of Photoshop: Why Retouching Isn’t As Evil As Everyone Thinks.The Cut.Available at: http://nymag.com/thecut/2010/08/photoshop_retouching.html [Accessed on 13 June 2015]

Susan,K.(2013) What’s behind the culture of Photoshop in advertising.The Globe And Mail.Available at:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/whats-behind-the-culture-of-photoshop-in-advertising/article10111740/ [Accessed on 14 June 2015]

8.Bussiness Value in Instagram

As I mentioned previously, Instagram act as important medium for he photographers.
This medium can help increase the popularity of a photographer but that’s not all, it can also help a photographer to make a living.

Instagram had become famous and there’s estimate about 300 millions monthly user/instagrammer.Not only because there’s a lot of users but it is because is convenient for the photographers to promote themselves in few social medias at once. Instagram have an options to share the photos to other social media like twitter and facebook when they upload.

Examples on how photographers make a living using instagram can be seen from two of the photographers, O’Neal and his partner, Edeani. They’ve been added into suggested users lists in instagram by Zollman, a member of instagram community (Farr,C. ,2013).

Because of this, they’ve been receiving a lot emails and offer for photography works. Edeani mentioned that there’s ad agencies and brands willing to pay him hundreds of dollars for him to photography theirs products on instagram. O’Neal also received emails from tourist that visit San Francisco(the place he stay)  , they get to understand well the place by browsing through his photos. He also organized ‘instameets’ ( meeting with his instagrammers) for his followers in that area (Farr,C. ,2013).

Another example can be seen in an interview with a commercial photographer- Julian Calverley.
He’s been on instagram for a while and mentioned that people already commissioning jobs on the phone.He also said that social media is very important for him (Hoyle,A., 2015) because it able to spread his works and communicate with others.

I think a lot of older photographers who don’t embrace social media are absolutely missing a trick. It’s not even a trick, it’s another language that everyone’s speaking and you either speak it or you don’t, and if you don’t you’re missing out on a large chunk of communication (Hoyle,A., 2015).

I really agree with what he said, many blame social media for making people become anti-social, it is true but the advantage for the social media is that it also make one sociable through internet, closer the gaps between people from all over the world and make communication easier.

Especially for freelance photographer, it is never easy to promote themselves and get work to be paid but instagram made their life easier. They can live freely and do what they love, take photos anytime they want as long their mobile is with them, post photos that they’ve taken and eventually job will come to them through this kind of medium. Technology always make life easier.

Not only photographer, even brands and companies like Nike, Starbucks,PayPal etc.. made an instagram account because they realized that there’s business value in it. It’s easier to promote themselves and most of them even encourage users to follow them through contest like “Follow and re-post this photo to have a chance to win…” or “post a photo about our products and hash-tag our brand name”. Some of the brands do hired popular photographer in instagram such as Edeani to take over their instagram account for 1 or 2 days to post the products pictures that taken by him.

As you can see from the examples above, Instagram can become a place to closer the relationship between a photographer/brands with their followers.To me, Instagram not only became an ‘Art Musuem’ ot ‘Blog’ for people to enjoy but also become a tool to communicate with the followers ‘indirectly’.

One problem is that the photo that users uploaded onto instagram can still be sell by other people. Instagram stated in their terms that…

“Once you have shared User Content or made it public, that User Content may be re-shared by others.” (Instagram)

There’s a news about an artist who stole a few photos in instagram and sell it to the public and he earned  $90,000 (Sola,K, 2015), it was quite a big amount. There’s a lot of artist using these apps and websites to promote themselves. In my opinion, users have to understand that once you’ve uploaded to these type of application or website, it is considered “public” and there will be a high possibility that people will steal your images/artwork and benefit themselves.

The moment you set as public, you have to always be ready for the risk of your artwork being steal by others and
I’m sure that most of the people aware with this risk. It is still hard to avoid this if add credits or watermark on the artwork because with today software like Photoshop and open source tutorial, anyone can easily enhance their editing skills and clear out the watermark.

So, why do people still posting up?
Well, Is there even any other ways that are safe but more convenient than this digital technique to promote themselves?


Sola,K.(2015), Artist Richard Prince Sells Instagram Photos That Aren’t His For $90K, The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/richard-prince-instagram_n_7452634.html %5BAccessed on 4 June 2015]

Farr,C.(2013),How these photographers are making a living on Instagram,VB News. Available at: http://venturebeat.com/2013/07/26/how-instagram-turned-these-people-into-entrepreneurs/ %5BAccessed on 4 June 2015]

Instagram, Privacy Policy.Available at: https://help.instagram.com/155833707900388%5BAccessed on 4 June 2015]

Hoyle,A.(2015),Why a pro photographer shoots on an iPhone, CNET. Available at: http://www.cnet.com/news/pro-photographer-iphone-julian-calverley-interview/ [Accessed on 5 June 2015]

7. Instagram act as an important medium

Marshall McLuhan mentioned in one of his book-‘Understanding media’ that  “The medium is the message” (Mark,F , 2004). In my classmate previous assignment blog, her topics related to McLuhan and she defined that sentences as

“The message is not the content of the app, the medium is the message, it means how the medium(media) has changed our lives instead of the content in it”.

I also found a post from my seniors about instagram act as a new medium.The article in it is similar to what my classmate mentioned,

The medium of Instagram (and to a larger extent the cameraphone) indelibly changed how people think about photography. The message is that communication won over art. Everyone is a photographer.

Below are some of the examples that can be seen from Reuters- a news agency instagram.


As you can see in the comment section on how these people react to it – they like it. Well, of course since pink sheep is cute but people do not realize that most dyes contain chemicals that can be harmful to these animals.

Another original photo from Reuters that received a lot of likes. The effects from the light and shadow brings a strong feeling for the viewers and makes the photo look nice but Reuters wondered : “Who would want to “like” a picture of malnourished children?” (Rusell,B. ,2014).

From what I’ve observed, instagramers browse photos , give likes and comments but do they even concerned about the contents within the photos before they make these actions? No, the looks and feels are what they concern more, who would even bordered looking at a bad photos using weak photography skills?

But still, Instagram acts an important medium for the photographers. I agree with my senior whom mentioned  in her blog about how instagram has become a space for photographers to share and communicate with others. This is a huge advantage especially for freelance photographers and even for people who just started to step into photography’s field. They can earn some popularity using this medium and also gain some inspiration with it by browsing others’ photos.

So what do you think? Do you want more followers and likes? or Do you prefer to have followers who understand and ‘sees’ the content within your photos before they comment/like?


Rusell,B.(2014)Instagram – a platform for professionals?.Reuters.Available at: http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2014/05/01/instagram-a-platform-for-professionals/ [Accessed on 9 June 2015]

Mark,F.(2004) What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?.Available at:  http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm [Accessed on 9 June 2015]