Morphs – The frankenphoto


Morphs. I have been asking on various social media platforms for opinions and I have been hard pushed to find anybody who admits to liking them.

So why are ‘morphs’ so prevalent within Second Life photography? And how do we make them go away?

A few years ago the grid had very little in terms of lighting and the options for hair and skin was much more limited than it is now.  There were no mesh body parts and avatars had many issues in certain areas. Looking at those avatar images now makes it easy to  see that it was more difficult to get a high quality profile picture.

This may have been what led photographers to patch features from avatar snapshots onto real world portraits. People wanted the best profile images and vendor shots and taking realistic features to fix blemishes and glitches gave them a chance at standing out.  Done well, this would create a likeness of the avatar with realistic lighting, hair and skin.

Unfortunately matching these ingredients well is no easy task and for every ‘good’ morph the community was subjected to dozens of strange, abstract images that gave the entire craft a terrible reputation. The general opinion of those who responded to my questions called them ‘weird’, ‘disjointed’ and ‘ugly’.

This negativity is not helped by the artists who take their base images from photographs of celebrities and models. It is mostly impossible to find the source of the images used in morphs and to check it’s legality. This leads to many customers of ‘morph artists’ facing damaged reputations and ridicule.It is even possible for a store owner using morphed vendor images to face legal action should the owner of the base photograph decide to claim against them.

Over the years Second Life and graphics programs such as Photoshop have become much more advanced and powerful. Along with windlight and mesh we have gained the ability to create almost photo-realistic images with a fraction of the effort required to create a ‘morph’.

If you are considering having a quality profile picture taken Strawberry Singh has a list of reputable photographers on her blog. There are also many on Flickr, but please be certain to check their portfolio for quality before you hand over any lindens.

If you do like ‘morphs’ let me know why in the comments. I’d love to hear more opinions.