See the striking impact that lighting, make-up and post-processing have on a model’s looks in this video

by Felix Esser

posted Monday, July 7, 2014 at 5:05 PM EDT

It's not a secret that the fashion industry uses massive amounts of retouching on their models to make them look "better." And it's also a fact that Photoshop is one of the most important tools for many portrait photographers. But how large is the impact of retouching on a model's looks in reality?

That's what photographer Karl Taylor set out to demonstrate in this video, which shows him photographing the same model with various lighting techniques, with and without makeup, and finally retouching one of the images to what could be considered an "ideal" look. The differences between the various pictures are more than striking.

But the intermediate steps are quite interesting as well, as the looks of the model change significantly each time one of the usual elements of portrait photography is added. In the first picture, the model is wearing no makeup, and her face is lit solely by natural light shining through a window. Then, Taylor adds studio lighting in the second and make-up in the third picture. It's only the fourth and last picture where the model's face has been treated with Photoshop.

We won't judge the quality of either of Taylor's four pictures here, as each has its own aesthetic and artistic value. And while one person may prefer a completely natural look, others may like the look of studio lighting and makeup better. And finally, some people may appreciate the aesthetics of an "unnatural" look of a heavily retouched portrait.

But one thing is made quite clear by Taylor's comparison: the "beauty" ideals of the fashion industry and of many professionally made portraits couldn't be further away from the natural beauty of an actual human being.

(via ISO1200)