Target is not the devil for using Photoshop

March 13, 2014 in Advertising, Blog, Photography

I have waited a while to comment on the Target photo retouching debacle. I was waiting not because I wanted to see how Target spun the story, but to see if they were going to admit what actually happened.

From my eyes, it looks like the person doing the retouching clicked a layer mask “on” or shifted it by a few pixels causing all kinds of weird jagged edges in the armpits and a squared-off edge in a most unfortunate spot. The reality, I doubt Target really thought that looked amazing. They were probably not in their well-designed offices in Minnesota thinking, “ha, we will show the youth that needle sharp armpits are the next thing.” It was an epic fail in the production department—from the file prep to proofing.

That said, is retouching evil? The short answer is no. I understand making people seem so unrealistically “perfect” causing a debate. Believe me, I don’t want to get into that debate. But, is using Photoshop to clean up a missed wrinkle on a shirt evil? A zit that showed up the day before a shoot? Uneven skin tone? Hair that won’t behave? Again, no. We are in a business where a client is paying money to make things perfect. That is why a photo shoot takes hours of prep, planning and actual work. If they wanted to show things exactly as is, they would shoot their ads on their phones and print them. Would you as the consumer then admire them? Or would you mock them and post their blunders online?

I think the outrage and soapbox rants have their place, but they should be left for certain things, meaningful things. Like when a McDonald’s burger looks delicious in print, but when you get it, it appears to have been in your gym bag since last Thursday. (side note: still delicious, but you get my point.)