Clementine ever so slightly photoshopped (Scroll down for before and after shots)
"Oh her skin's so perfect!" coos my friend Sarah. "She looks flawless!" says Annie. They are looking at the pictures of my beautiful newborn baby Clementine I have just brought them.
Of course I think she's perfect and flawless and she is. But the pictures they're looking at don't quite match the reality.
The reality is that when she was born she had a slightly ugly red scar from the ventouse and a spot of dried blood in her hair.
Now, I'm a keen amateur photographer but with a strong emphasis on the amateur. This means that where my technical prowess lacks, I make up for it with Photoshop. Photoshop can hide a multitude of sins. From livening up green grass to blurring out a stray Asda carrier bag, it's a great tool in a snapper's arsenal. You can remove unwanted intruders, add a shadow here and there and create works of art.
Clementine before (left) and after (right)
And for the journalist with a constant need to supply pictures of herself for bylines, Photoshop is a complete godsend (nobody need ever know that I have a dog-bite scar on my right cheek – unless they meet me in real life that is).
For someone with such an expressive face that brow lines are in evidence even when I'm not frowning, Photoshop really comes in. It's certainly cheaper than Botox. To anyone who's ever seen a picture of me but not met me, I never have spots, my roots certainly don't show and I NEVER EVER have a double chin.
Not that I am for a second suggesting that my baby daughter needs anywhere near the level of amelioration that I do. Like most first-time mums I have been knocked sideways at how utterly beautiful she is, how perfect her eyes are, how delicate her feet and hands are.
I wouldn't change a single thing about her.
I might, however, have a hand in what history remembers. I have been enhancing the faces of friends' children for some time. Sometimes they don't even notice, so blinkered about their beauty are they. It starts so innocently. I'll take a picture on my nice expensive camera.
They'll ask me for a copy. I'll open it on my computer, fiddle with the lighting a bit, adjust the shadows, enhance the colour.
Sometimes, if I feel they're particularly pretentious, I'll convert it to black and white. And then my finger will wander over to the Spot Healing Brush. "I'll just clean up that red spot there," I think. "Oh and there's a bit of dry skin. Airbrush that..." and before long I have transformed their child into a bonny baby competition entrant.
"Oh! Nobody else has ever taken such a nice picture of Millie!" cries one friend, chuffed to bits with the fruits of my labour. I've added a bit of a glow, reduced the redness, edited out a blemish here and there and given Millie's mum a picture that's in her head. Another friend has even ASKED me to minimize her child's eczema in my pictures, knowing I could do so.
I'm not advocating changing facial features, enhancing lips or removing lines but a little tweak here and there can make the difference between a poor-quality snap of your darling baby and a picture to be proud of. When I look back on the pictures that exist of me as a baby and child, they are blurry, feature me pulling faces like a Sumo wrestler and with cradle cap and milk spots galore.
Why shouldn't I want my darling Clementine to be seen by the public the way I see her?
As utterly perfect in every single way.
Do you agree or do you think those rashes and milk spots are worth remembering too?