Celebrity Makeup Artist, Pati Dubroff, Weighs in on Photoshop

I’m sure you know by now that Photoshop hasn’t exactly earned the best reputation among consumers. Between alien-like proportions and exaggerated thigh gaps, I think we have a general understanding how misleading some Photoshopped images can be. However, it’s important to note that not everybody uses Photoshop to warp models into unnatural humanoids. While extreme cases of Photoshop have most certainly changed the consumer-producer relationship, I was curious to know how Photoshop affects the artists whose creations are often at risk of being changed at another person’s will. After all, photographers, stylists and makeup artists work hard to make a creative vision come to life. How do they handle the changes to their work? How does it affect the way they operate? I was fortunate enough interview world renowned makeup artist, Pati Dubroff. And, as it turns out, Photoshop is just as capable of doing a few positive things as it is negative.

Having primped and primed the faces of Hollywood heavyweights like Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Julianne Moore (just to name a few), Pati Dubroff is one of the most sought after makeup artists in the industry. With a résumé that includes work in American Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, W, InStyle, Galmour, Allure and Elle, the caliber of her work is consistently above and beyond. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to change it, but even the world’s best have had to endure some changes made via Photoshop. Pati was kind enough to walk me through the pros, cons and changes that Photoshop has brought to her work as a makeup artist.

First off, how long have you been a makeup artist?

PD: I’ve been doing makeup since I was 10. I was really fortunate to find my passion, and then that passion turned into a career that’s sustained me. I’ve been working as a makeup artist for twenty-something years.

Have you seen a technological shift from the time you started until now?

PD: When I was learning to do makeup and starting, you couldn’t necessarily rely on photo retouching to do your job for you. Now, everything goes back to, “Oh don’t worry we’ll do it in Photoshop,” and I don’t like to leave those things to another person and their device.

Do you feel like photographers are more reliant on Photoshop as well?

PD: Oh yeah, very often the photographer will say, “Don’t put anything on the skin. We’ll do it all in Photoshop.” I don’t like to do that because the skin sometimes needs more than just the zits covered. Sometimes it needs glowing and contouring and things like that. Then there’s the fine line of not doing too much…doing the right amount for what that person needs. Then there are other times – thank god for Photoshop.

When are you most thankful for Photoshop?

PD: Maybe there’s blemishes or a cold sore or something that you don’t want to keep packing makeup on every day. It might irritate it…you don’t want to overdo something to hurt the skin. Then there’s the bad side to Photoshop. It’s not real. For people seeing these images….limbs are elongated and [so much] is taken away, they’re no longer real people. When people see that, it’s hard for them to look in the mirror and accept what they see. They’re judging it by society’s standards, which have been so manipulated.

Obviously makeup artistry involves a bit of alteration and enhancement. How does this differ from the alterations and enhancements made on Photoshop?

PD: That’s the skill and the artistry of seeing the beauty of the face and enhancing everything around that…and that isn’t [through] fake manipulation. There’s also makeup artists who are really into shading and contouring the face, and that’s another form of manipulation. I’m not really into that. I don’t look at a face and think, “This needs to be fixed.” I look at a face and think, “This needs to be brought to the forefront.”

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