Sunday, November 22, 2009

W Magazine - The Case of the Missing Hip

The blogosphere is abuzz about whether or not Demi Moore's hip has been photoshopped in the latest cover of W magazine. Here are some resources for you to check out

Boing Boing's article - Was Demi Moore Ralph-Laurenized on "W" mag cover, with missing hip-flesh? - takes one look at it, and the Consumerist chimes in with - Somewhere, Out There, A Piece Of Demi Moore's Hip Is Looking For Its Home, and follows up with Fashion Photographer Offers $5,000 Reward For Demi Moore's Hip.

Interestly enough, Demi Moore chimes in with a tweet of what she purports to be the original, un-retouched image, here.
(Continued after the Jump)

From Moore's perspective, that may well be the original image that she saw. To her, it is the image before she provided any retouching guidance. Yet, it is entirely possible that the photo retouchers either in-house or sub-contracted out, were told which the best series of images were, and to do basic retouching before presenting them to Moore for approval and additional guidance. The last thing that W would want would be for Moore to kill the entire shoot and then not be available for a re-shoot in time for deadlines.

Here though, is where the photographer, Anthony Citrano, makes a mistake. In the infamous Ralph Lauren ad, it was a retouchers error, not the photographers, that caused the outcry. Generally speaking, celebrities have specific approved retouchers that they know will make them look their best, just as each celebrity and publicist has their own approved photographers that they will use. Whether or not the retoucher in question here was a Demi-approved one or not, we don't know. However, what I do believe is that the photographer should have just stayed out of this. Yet, he hasn't. He sent Consumerist a high resolution version of the photo (which could a breach of his contract with W), and he tweeted an offer of $5,000 to charity "f that's really the original." (tweet here).

I am of the opinion that the photographer made a mistake because he's highly likely to have done damage to his reputation with W in speaking out against them and making them look bad in a public manner. He could have included some language requiring his approval of final art before it being published, however I highly doubt he would have had that kind of clout. Moore, no doubt, did, and he - the photographer - needed to have just let this go. Editorial publications can crop and manipulate images to whatever extent their editorial policies allow. Some publications allow only for contextual cropping (i.e. cropping so that the message of the image is made more clear without subverting the original context) and reasonable dodging/burning, and others allow for wholesale manipulations. W, which holds itself out as:
"W is the only pure luxury fashion and lifestyle magazine."
Might be in breach of the modifier "pure", if they allowed retouching. However, with an audience that does real-world retouching (i.e. Botox, etc) perhaps the modifier "pure" refers to something else, and their audience doesn't care? The next sentence in their advertising section suggests:
"The magazine's journalistic heritage provides the ultimate insider experience an original, provocative approach to fashion, beauty, society, art, culture, travel and entertainment."
"Journalistic heritage?" Really? That suggests a higher standard then, where retouching should be verbotten.

The continued use of Adobe's Photoshop has become so commonplace that it is becoming a verb, and Adobe isn't happy. Their guidelines state:
"The Photoshop trademark must never be used as a common verb or as a noun."
and goes on to note:
Trademarks are not verbs.

Correct: The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.
Incorrect: The image was photoshopped.
This makes sense, as Xerox had one heck of a problem with people saying "I need a xerox copy..."

In the end, W joins the list of publications where it is a part of the public discourse that they use Photoshop to modify images that are not honest, along with many other publications. The photographer, however, should have stayed out of the fray.

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