As Photoshop fails become an almost daily occurrence, what REALLY goes on in a professional retouching studio

Photography is not, and never has been, a truly representative medium. Lens distortion, light techniques and clever styling always have and continue to produce versions - often far detached from reality - of the truth.

In an age where Photoshop is both so prevalent and so often vilified, there are more and more cases of digital retouching being reined in, particularly if the ultimate use of the image is to sell a product.

But, says, most photographers, retouchers and advertisers work within the rule of law and very few alter images to deliberately deceive.


Deceptive: CoverGirl was ordered to remove an image of a model with long, dark eyelashes next to small print admitting that the image had been digitally enhanced

Most recently, CoverGirl was ordered to remove an image of a model with long, dark eyelashes next to small print admitting that the image had been digitally enhanced.

NAD director Andrea Levine told Business Insider: 'You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says "okay, not really."'

Many photographers and retouchers maintain, however, that problems on this scale remain rare. Fashionista spoke with several industry insiders, all of whom remained anonymous, to explain.

One said: 'With the exception of maybe wrinkles being smoothed out, nearly all the retouching I’ve seen or done is to correct or change a choice made by another creative in the process.'

Another, a health and fitness publications retoucher, told the site that she is often faced with bad plastic surgery that needs to be 'fixed.'

Vogue Turkey

Flat chested: Stunning model Jacquelyn Jablonski appears to have had her breasts removed in post-production. While errors like this are common, insiders say changes are rarely made to bodies

She said: '[We aren’t] over-slimming. Maybe just pushing in a little bit here and there where the camera might have exaggerated a side, but there still is a camera and there still is lens distortion, so sometimes itʼs just correcting that.'

While no-one wants to be conned, consumers may have come to expect a level of 'perfection' that can only come from retouching, suggests the site. Diminishing budgets and online images are only heightening the search for photos that are beyond the quotidien.

The site says the greyest area is in beauty advertising, with one source admitting that he was made to transform an image of Rihanna into something that resembled an 'illustration' and another time worked on a book about make-up that was less about cosmetics than digital trickery.

'Many of these models really honestly do look like how they do in the pictures'

Then, there are just some with extraordinary good looks - uncommonly, but not impossibly, beautiful. 'Many of these models really honestly do look like how they do in the pictures,' one source told the site.

Perhaps most worrying is the notion that photographers perhaps do not put as much effort into shoots as they may once have done. One source told the site that photographers take a 'oh donʼt worry about that theyʼll fix it in post-[production],' stance on imperfections.

While most - if not all - photos are altered in post-production before reaching an audience, the majority of expert retouching is never even noticed.

But where photos have fallen prey to over-zealous airbrushing, there remain the worryingly ubiquitous Photoshop fails.

The sharp eyes at Photoshop Disasters, never ones to let a digital blooper slip unnoticed, have drawn attention to none other than Vogue.

On an otherwise beautifully styled shoot, an unfortunate Amber Valletta, photographed by Steven Klein, appears to have lost a leg somewhere in the eerie greenhouse.

Vogue's caption reads: 'The season's essential trench coat comes in an array of colors, like fiery red and cool violet.' It also seems to come with a gravity-defying pull as Ms Valletta leans back on one leg, mannequin-like.

Photoshop fails are spotted on an almost daily basis, with other recent victims including a hip-less Bloomingdales model and a Vogue Turkey cover shot of stunning Jacquelyn Jablonski with an overly and unflatteringly flat chest and no cleavage.

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