Anyway, it was pretty depressing. So I took the picture into Photoshop and retouched it, taking about twenty years off my face. And I felt much better about myself! Amazing, the power of the photographic lie to convince you that something is true when it's not - even when you know what the lie is, because you're the one who told it!
So does that mean we should never retouch anything? No. When was the last time you grabbed somebody, put him or her under a spotlight against a plain background with no distractions and stared intently at their motionless, unblinking, silent face from fifteen inches away for half a minute? That's not the way we see people in real life, but that's what we experience when we look at a photographic portrait. Almost anything and anybody would wither under such ruthless examination; we retouch to make up the difference between what you see in real life and what the camera sees.
Here's a perfect example: the first picture is what I supposedly look like (or did, five years ago) in the unforgiving glare of studio lights.
But with only the SLIGHTEST amount of VERY SUBTLE retouching, that picture is restored to the way I REALLY look in real life...