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16/10/2008 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

I enjoyed the current exhibition of photographs by Patrick Demarchelier at the Petit Palais here in Paris. As you probably already know, Demarchelier is one of the world's greatest fashion photographers, having snapped countless supermodels as well as movie stars, presidents and Princess Diana. To look at his pictures is to enter the dream world of a glossy magazine. The words « beautiful people » could have been invented for the deities who pose for his lens.

Interestingly, the curator of the exhibition is Pascal Dangin, the world's greatest retoucher of fashion photographs. He is a Photoshop magician, who can erase physical flaws with the click of a mouse. It's no surprise that he should team up with Demarchelier, whose subjects often look so perfect that they make the rest of us feel chubby, blotchy and insecure.

But with the democratization of technology, it's likely that we will all soon be able to perfect our photographs. Our holiday snaps, our Facebook portraits, the pictures on our blogs or Linked In profiles: thanks to digital photography and cheaper software, they will all look far better than the real thing. Pictures of ourselves on the Internet will move further and further away from the physical truth. Forget Second Life (which we have, haven't we?) – soon we'll all have our own social networking avatars, cleaned-up, buffed and ready to greet our virtual friends. Let's just hope they don't ask to meet us in person.

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