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3rd Story

Cutting you right out of my life

It is a movie and television cliché for someone to cut their ex out of photos after a bad breakup. Today, people are harnessing technology to remove their former partners without leaving holes.

An Aug. 25 New York Times article discussed the practice. Laura Horn, 50, had a friend Photoshop her ex-husband out of a variety of travel photos.

"In my own reality, I know that these things did happen," Horn said. But "without him in them I can display them. I can look at those pictures and think of the laughter we were sharing, the places we went to. This new reality is a lot more pleasant."

Magazines have long been criticized for using this technology for altering the appearances of its subjects. For example, last year Shape magazine changed its cover shot of TV host Kelly Ripa in a bikini so that her "outie" belly button was transformed into an "innie."

"It used to be that photographs provided documentary evidence, and there was something sacrosanct about that," said California College of the Arts photography professor Chris Johnson in the New York Times article.

Mary Warner Marien has a different take. The Syracuse University art history professor pointed out that the practice of altering photos is common in India. It is a tradition, the author of Photography: A Cultural History said, for head shots of absent family members to be cut and pasted into wedding photos. The act is intended as a gesture of respect and inclusion.

"Everyone understands it's not a trick," she said. "That's the nature of the photograph. It's a Western sense of reality that what is in front of the lens has to be true."

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