I just received an email from Fiona Hawtin, editor of Fashion Quarterly about the latest cover: “While we’re happy to admit we do retouch images, the summer cover is most certainly not comprised of one shot of our model’s head onto another of her body. The driftwood, however, has had quite a bit of work.”
Two weeks ago I blogged about Sarah Murdoch’s controversial un-retouched cover for Australian Woman’s Weekly. The story as it went was that Australian former supermodel Sarah Murdoch chose to appear on the cover of the magazine with no airbrushed assistance – aka au naturel. That’s one extreme. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve just heard on good authority that the latest Fashion Quarterly cover is made up of two photos – one of the body, and another of the model’s head from a different picture Photoshopped onto the body – apparently a fairly common occurrence for the magazine.
If you’ve seen September Issue you’ll know that photo doctoring as dramatically as decapitation isn’t actually as rare as you might think. The Sienna Miller Vogue cover from the movie had a different head attached thanks to the magic of Photoshop. When I worked for an architectural magazine last year it was quite common for the designer to Photoshop a chair into a room or a different wall onto a house if the first one wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.
So when is it going too far? I’m all for flawless skin and beautiful photos of beautiful people, but surely taking a head from one photo and sticking it onto another body is a little extreme. It kind of takes away the artistry of the photography and styling and the real life beauty of the work. Looking very closely at the FQ cover I decided I wouldn’t have known had I not been told (though I’m no expert on such technical matters), but it seems like the lighting looks different on the face (like, it’s brighter), than the lighting on the body. Graphic designers?
Delaney Tabron from NO Magazine had this to say about retouching (taken from the Sarah Murdoch blog): “I think it is incredibly irresponsible of magazines to retouch people beyond recognition. I do very minimal retouching on No to remove pimples and temporary blemishes but that’s all. I think ‘imperfections’ make people unique and beautiful. I was once publicly criticised for not removing hair on Katy Perry’s fingers on the cover of Issue 4 – God forbid a woman should have hairy knuckles. It’s sad that the media often perpetuates an unrealistic standard of beauty. There is nothing interesting about a world full of people who look like they have skin made of molded plastic.”
And let’s not forget about that whole Ralph Lauren debacle.
So here are my questions:
Do you think it’s irresponsible for magazines to Photoshop to the level of perfection?
Do you think it ruins the magic of a photo shoot?
Would you have known that the FQ cover was doctored?
Be honest – do you prefer to see perfect-looking people on the covers of magazines as opposed to people with everyday flaws?
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