“Can you photoshop that?” – Advertising Folk Speech

Main Piece:

CS, a mid-twenties home office worker, currently works in advertising and something their company’s clients say all the time is “Can you just photoshop that?” Photoshop is a tool made by Adobe that allows for a huge range of editing on images. But what the client means when they say that phrase is, “can’t you just do some designer magic to make my thing look really good with minimal effort and cost to me?” And while every so often, it’s easy to “just photoshop it,” more often than not, it’s a long, arduous task taking many hours.


When clients give notes on the provided work, they usually don’t know very much about design (hence them coming to said advertising company), and aren’t versed in the minutia of the design work. Using the program name “photoshop” as a verb in this context has become the universal word for “fixing” images despite it’s origin being such a broadly applicable software.


When talking about a conversation he had at work the informant, CS, said the phrase “can you photoshop that?” I asked for him to elaborate on what it really means.


More and more often, we are adopting digital programs and company names into our vernacular. The phrase “Google it” comes to mind, which without living in the context of the present day, could be quite confusing (in this case meaning, “research it in an online format; find your information on the internet). It is interesting to benchmark these terms that are in use now, for as things become even more digital, they may get more specific to functions WITHIN these broader programs and terminologies.