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Thought for the Week – 17th March 2024

Doctored Images

The Princess of Wales has been in a lot of trouble for using Photoshop on a picture sent to the press. Personally my sympathies are entirely with her; I do not see why an amateur photographer should be expected to know the code of conduct for the professionals, but perhaps that is just me. The story does raise interesting questions of how we use images for our own advantage. The carefully posed portrait photograph taken by a professional may say very little about the reality of a relationship and painters and sculptures creating work to satisfy their clients is as old as their arts. It is not just photos; every time I speak or appear in public, I project an image of myself. Sometimes I control this image, the smiling and sympathetic vicar visiting his parishioners; sometimes another aspect is on view (how can you drive a car and not break several of the 10 commandments?). The reality is probably somewhere in-between these two images. I suspect most of us are hybrids, not quite as good as we would like to think we are, not quite as bad as we fear we may be. It is important that we take time to reflect on our true nature, to remove the Photoshop additions that we or others apply to us. Some turn to techniques such as mindfulness but the Christian response is prayer. This is not about chatting away with a wish list of 10 things about ourselves we would wish to change; it is about examining our lives, identifying strengths and weaknesses in the presence of the One who is gracious and merciful and who does not need Photoshop to identify our beauty, no matter how much we have spoilt that.

Rev David Poyner