Lady Gaga Retouched Into Oblivion For Vogue

There’s been a lot of retouching talk lately as a few magazines have come under fire for blatantly overdoing it in the last year.  Most of you have probably heard about Seventeen Magazine taking a no-Photoshop pledge and I’m down with that.  With all the pressures on teen girls these days, I feel like that’s step in the right direction.  The argument for or against  retouching and Photoshop is way too involved for me to wax on about and to be honest I have very conflicting feelings about all of it.  Making skinny girls skinnier is ridiculous and kind of harmful in the long run.  Taking out a blemish, however, is just good manners.  Speaking of ridiculous, have you guys seen Lady Gaga on the cover of Vogue?

Vogue opts for an illustration as opposed to a photograph for this year’s September Issue.

I should mention that this photo and the ones inside are by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot but honestly, who the fuck cares?  The credit, if they would dare accept it, would go to whatever illustrative team decided to do this digital surgery.  Here’s a lo-res B and A for you below.

In the same way that Jay Z ushered the end of autotune, I’d like to do the same for cross processing.  Will a famous photographer, magazine, art director, Gregory Crewdson,  Jeff Koons,  or Ricki Lake PLEASE publicly denounce this practice so we can go back to normal processing for a minute?  Cross processing is cool because it’s an accident, a mistake if you will.  It happens when you run slide film (positive film) through the same developing process as negative film.  You get that crazy color shift and sometimes an excess of graininess.  But if every picture is cross processed, nothing is really cross processed.  We are approaching that point–a cross-processed critical mass.  There are a million other things to be upset about…the elongated neck, skin smoothing, and exaggerated liquefaction of her dress, but we should focus on something else.

We have entered a time where photography is creeping into the realm of illustration.  (In this case, more like running and jumping into that realm.)  This creates a problem for photographers, as illustrators just need a base image and it doesn’t really matter about quality or lighting or experience with models, or even the model.  Why hire a photographer at all?  What’s the ultimate point?

I’m not upset with illustrators.  I appreciate a well-done comp as much as the next person.  But in the end, if my photos are going to be so manipulated that no one would even recognize that I took them, then I don’t think I’d want to take them.  Most of us would be outraged if our photos were edited in a way inconsistent with our styles.  (True Story: I do not know how Alas and Piggot feel about this.  It’s possible that they love this cover and sleep with it every night.)

Some months back, Lady Gaga, who I feel like is attractive in a multitude of ways, was in Harper’s Bazaar without makeup.  In fairness, they probably cleaned up her skin a bit and took care of any darkness under her eyes.  Shooting in black and white is a way to flatter the skin if done correctly as well.  There are always tricks.  I guess what I’m saying is that I’d rather be lied to in this way, than in the previous images.  That, and I feel like I have more job security when it doesn’t take a team of special effects artists to put a photo on the cover of a magazine.

Photo by Inez and Vinoodh

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Talk to me in the comments below.


8 thoughts on “Lady Gaga Retouched Into Oblivion For Vogue

  1. i’m guilty of doing that cross-processed green skin/purple undertone kinda thing..but i’m trying to stray away..and i don’t think i’m doing it as much as i did last year (ex: this picture of alysha taken in 2011 but i loooove colorful photos ! which is why i started experimenting with filters outside of the camera (sheer fabrics, colorful bubbles, shit even shooting through bubble gum and destroying a couple filters)…i definitely prefer it when the magic happens outside of photoshop. i get frustrated sometimes because a lot of people think i photoshop the hell out of my pictures (like this one of our mutual friend…
    aaaand i’ll stop talking about myself now. <3's to you chris f.

    • Kristen! I covered the flash from a disposable last week in the purple curtains that were in the room. I can wait to see them! So I’m all about the experimentation and bending of the rules. The problem I have, admittedly, (I’m a snob) is that there’s a world of people who don’t appreciate the roots. Things like Instagram (and Photoshop to an extent) have digitalized something so dear to us. In the long run I think that’s dangerous not just for photography but all art in general. I realize this makes me sound like an old man and I’m willing to take that. You shoot a lot of film, and I know you’ve put in the hours, and I do associate your work with that intense color…it’s kind of your calling card and I’m totally all about it. And gawd, do I love that photo of Rachel. <3's right back, Kristen.

  2. I’m counting on the pendulum swing. Everything has a rise and a fall and I suspect that in the not so distant future the excessive use of filters will be looked at as a but too 2012. Let’s hope, anyways. Think about every 80’s wedding photo with that soft focus effect…no one would do that now. Maybe that’s in the future for cartoony illustration and Instagram.

  3. Completely agree with you! That before shot was so different. What happened to actually liking what people really look like?

  4. I feel that art is all about trend these days. Process is out (except when it’s cool). The end result is all that matters and it must look like it’s illustrated by Adobe illustrator (the super-model of illustrated images) and have that Instagram contrasty look. OR be a film camera..or better yet a large format film camera….b/c digital has no soul…duh. These days “anyone” can be an artist, so no one is. I find this incredibly disturbing. I’m an artist b/c my health depends on it, I’m just built that way. Job security? I don’t think I’ll ever have it. The days of Richard Avedon are gone and I miss them!

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