Fascinating and disturbing

The camera never lies, but here’s yet more proof that what appears in print often bears little or no relation to what was actually photographed. Brian Dilg is insanely talented, but his description of a Ralph Lauren job involving a child model has made me utterly depressed:

This is a good example of some very tricky retouching for a very picky client – Polo Ralph Lauren. In addition to making the clothes fit better, they decided they wanted the blouse to be short sleeved. I ended up photographing an adult woman’s arms and compositing them in, as well as extending the background considerably. I was very proud of how I made the lean, muscular adult’s arms plump to to match the girl’s body type, but Polo asked to have them made skinny, just as anorexic as adult models.

Via Metafilter



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0 responses to “Fascinating and disturbing”

  1. I have to say I find the extent to which Photoshop has transformed commercial photography fascinating. My father used to own a professional photo lab, and at one stage he also had an inhouse retoucher, who used paintbrushes and carefully mixed emulsions, scalpels etc to manually remove blemishes etc, so I always knew that the final product was seldom “as shot”: but Photoshop has completely transformed what can be done to achieve the client’s aims (as twisted as they sometimes are, I certainly acknowledge!) I considered becoming a photographer myself at one stage: it’s interesting to think how quickly this would have converged with my interest in computers and computer graphics.

  2. Gary

    I’m fascinated and horrified by it in roughly equal measure. Photoshop is an amazing tool, but the way it’s used sometimes is appalling – particularly on magazine front covers.

  3. Whatever he may say about Ralph Lauren’s request, the girl’s arms look much the same in both shots. What is considerably more crap is this “making the clothes fit better” — in other words, changing the clothes from what Ralph Lauren actually make into some other hypothetical clothes. If the clothes don’t fit properly, the solution is to tailor them better. And they call themselves clothing designers?

    If a girl of much the same build as the girl in the ad buys some Ralph Lauren clothes on the basis of that advert and then finds that they fit badly, have Ralph Lauren not then committed fraud?

  4. Its a bit like buying apples at the supermarket. Your eye naturally falls on the lovely fresh crisp green look of Golden Delicious but you know the scabby organic one is better and tastier. However its going to take a very brave publisher/advertiser to pick a more organic image over a retouched one, as this market is even more constrained by the “five second make or break” buying decision.
    To counter Squander twos argument, if you bought perfectly smooth clothes as in the retouched image you would instantly get bulges at the elbows when you wear it. Most clothes have a looseness to them and aren’t a bad fit as described. Its just that in a shoot the required looseness doesn’t look as attractive – that’s why bulldog clips are THE essential tool on a photoshoot. They’re used to gather up as much material as possible to give that fitted look. The fact that a model usually has five ton of metalwork behind her back is never thought of by the viewer. Designers of clothes know that they have to present two products, one for the camera and one for the shop.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its right but its understandable to see how the process has evolved. We’re all just so thickle.

  5. Gary

    Good point about the bulldog clips, Carlton. And of course vaseline on camera lenses predates Photoshop…