The Magic of Digital Imaging by
(90 Stories)

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I’ll never have plastic surgery. I always say it’s because I’m determined to age gracefully, naturally, but mostly it’s because I can’t afford it, and I’m afraid of pain and/or a bad result. But each morning I Photoshop my mouth, turn it up at the corners for a sweet smile instead of the gash I have instead, and when exactly did that happen. And while I’m at it, a little healing brush (removes spots and blemishes) between my eyes so I don’t look like I’m frowning even when I’m not. I skip the smudge tool (softens or smudges colors) for daytime, though it’s great for evenings out. And believe it or not, I leave the wrinkles alone…I’m not a fan of faces with obvious work, especially when compared to the accompanying hands. Please. Jowls is another story for another time…because it’s complicated.

A mugful of heavily leaded coffee later, I’m ready for the day, open the front door and oh my god where are my sunglasses and even those aren’t nearly enough. Back to the computer, open Photoshop, quickly now, Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast…ahhh, that’s better, that should do it. If not I can tweak the day later on my phone.

Jump into the car, onto the freeway, merge, and of course it’s one asshole after another bearing down on me. Easy enough to erase them, don’t even need an app for that…zap, zap, you’re out of here motherfucker. Smooth sailing now, I’ve pretty much got the road to myself, just like the good old days when you knew how long it would take to get to where you were going.

By the way, are you familiar with the history brush, and with layers? A lot of people don’t realize you can actually go back at any time to any stage and edit or even delete anything you’re not happy with, all without harming your original image!

What did we do before digital imaging? It’s hard to remember. Like not having our phone with us…how did we even leave the house? What if what if what if…anything could have happened and we would have been up shit’s creek. But here we are.

There, that’s a little better…whitened my teeth while I was it. Because I hate going to the dentist!

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Barb, this is wonderful. I love the idea of photoshopping our lives. We could get rid of all the blemishes, and even the wrinkles for some of us. And yes, whiten our teeth, as you did in the bottom photo. So much simpler than having actual work done!

    It’s magical to have a story from you this week! We’ve missed you the last few months.

  2. Wow, Bebe, if I jet-set out there can you work some of the magic on me!

    I remember my mom telling my dad she wanted to have a face lift.
    “Don’t,” he warned her, “then you’d have to stand on a chair to brush your teeth.”.

  3. Marian says:

    Way to go, Barb, I will photoshop a few wrinkles away in my dreams!

  4. Loved this “meta-story” about magic. Left me wondering and pondering.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I LOVE this, Barb. Obviously, my photo editing skills are much cruder than yours, but I do try to make everyone of a certain age look nice in photos. Would that it were so easy in real life, whatever that is. And could you please make T. disappear?

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    WELCOME BACK BARB! So nice to see a story from you, and such a fun one! I don’t know how to use any of the tools you talk about, but BOY, I’m with you, I’d love to make T disappear…for GOOD! Then on to my face. 🙂

  7. Susan Bennet says:

    This is hilarious, Barbara. The weird thing is, I bet sometime in the sci-fi future one WILL be able to “photoshop” themselves as you describe. (I find applying foundation in the near-dark does the trick.) Even so, I was annoyed when a man came up to me at a party and said, “You look just the same!” Annoyed because good grief it’s not true, annoyed because who cares, and then appalled that I must have looked this old all those years ago. Oh well. As my aunt used to say, “Who’s looking at me, anyway?”

  8. John Shutkin says:

    Magic, Barb! (What else can I say?)

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    Great to get another story from you. I loved the way you used photoshop to change yourself, your life, and history itself. At first it seemed you were talking about a picture, but no it was actually you and the rest of the world–masterfully done. If only.

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