Pageant Photographs: to Filter or Not to Filter

Photographer Seven Barretto mentioned a interesting perspective on what it feels when pageant pages and accounts (like ours) edit their photographs with filters and makeup edits. He mentioned that such edits are “nakakabastos”, akin to defacing a painter’s masterpiece.

Being one of those who is guilty of making makeup edits ourself we hope to be able to touch on several points regarding this matter.


We understand Seven’s point of view. It indeed is a work of heart to come out with good quality photographs, much more when stunning images are the result. There is so much hardwork involved in the creation of a good image.

This is why we encourage pageant pages to give credit where credit is due. Name and tag the photographers, makeup artists, fashion stylists, hairstylists and other people who has worked behind the scenes to produce the images. We are guilty of omission in a number of instances and we will endeavor to do our best to do better. This, at the very least, takes care of the crediting of work portion of the equation.


Editing or altering the appearances of the photos has long been a boon and a blessing. It has its pros and cons.

If photographers are to say that pageant pages are not to filter or alter their photographs, then shouldn’t it also follow that photographers should also avoid using photoshop to airbrush their images because they too are altering their work from the original output? Shouldn’t they rely on lighting and photography techniques to come up with a stunning image instead of having it undergo airbrushing? Shouldn’t they instruct hair and makeup artists to collectively merge minds and ideas to create stunning photographs instead of relying on airbrushing techniques to perfect an image?

If fashion photographers like Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton of the 50’s can create stunning photographs without Photoshop, then surely photographers nowadays can make do without it. That is the function of talent.

How many times have we been exposed to arms and limbs elongated to make the model look taller or waists shrunk that the difference of BTS images and videos do not reflect the reality of released photographs. There is a more in Hollywood where actresses would rather be portrayed with much less airbrushing in the promotion of a better and positive body image for women.

We alter images to show what is possible. We can only speak for ourselves on this point. The intent was never to malign the creatives’ work but rather to show what can be improved upon and show transformation possibilities that the girl’s team can study to improve her chances in her competition. It is never a slight to the glam team’s talent and we always mention if the image has been filtered/altered. We do makeup transformations on an app that we can control the type of lashes to use, the amount of gloss a lipstick should have, the thickness of the foundation, etc… We never use a “template” so that every makeup transformation comes out unique.

Perhaps some pageant pages may have taken these transformation too far that it does distort reality and/or expectations in reality. We can argue as well that if pageant pages feel that the images released are adequate in aesthetics, in glamor, in impact, or in whatever they are looking for in an image, they wouldn’t be compelled to do additional edits on the images. We do encourage, however, that pageant pages be upfront and disclose on their posts if the images have been indeed altered. Then there is also the point where if adding filters is a form of misrepresentation, so does Photoshopping and airbrushing on the part of the photographers. Both are forms of misrepresentation but why is one accepted, the other not?

We hope that in all of these opposing views, we can find a middle ground where we respect each other unequivocally and unquestionably.

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