Did Photo Retouchers Photoshop Jennifer Lawrence's Face Too Much In New Dior Ad?

Oh the world of high end retouching.  This week cosmetic company Dior released a new video and ad campaign featuring their hot spokeswoman, Jennifer Lawrence.  With a not so subtle nod to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, this new lipstick commercial isn't so bad upon first watch.  Social media has gone ablaze however once screen grabs from the video have been making their way across the internet.  Where are Jennifer's eyelids!  We have the behind the scenes video to see where things went wrong.  

It's a century long debate:  should retouching be used to make a perfect photograph, or is using Photoshop irresponsible because it promotes unobtainable beauty?  I think most photographers would argue that retouching programs like Photoshop are just another tool which allows us to create the best art we can.  Art is subjective and saying all art should be 100% real completely misses the point of art, ESPECIALLY art used for marketing and selling.  

The below photograph has sparked yet another debate about retouching in advertising.  The image appears to be a high res image pulled from the original Red video capture (can you tell the difference between video photos and normal photos?).  What is making retouchers around the world so upset is how sloppy the retouching has been executed.  Disgruntled Dior fans have even adopted the twitter hashtag #allthephotoshop to bring attention to this atrocity.  

Did retouchers go to far with Jennifer Lawrence's skin retouching?

The reasonable thing to ask when looking at this image is "are Jennifer's alien eyes a result of bad Photoshop, fake video retouching, or the makeup application itself?"

Photographers and retouchers get a bad reputation because the public is so quick to point out that images can be manipulated into perfection with the swipe of a mouse.  However, as we photographers know, hair styling and makeup can actually make more of an impact on someone's natural beauty well beyond what is typically done in post processing.  A great makeup artist can easily make skin almost flawless well before the first strobe light is fired by the photographer.  And since Dior is a makeup company, perhaps people should be outraged by the makeup application rather than "All The Photoshop."  Let's take a look at the behind the scenes video. 

Here are a few screen captures from the behind the scenes video to consider:

In all three of these images you can clearly see realistic shadows under Jennifer's eyes.  Her skin looks flawless but natural, and I think it is safe to say that any photographer would be super excited if this was the result of their makeup artist's work.  So if the plastic looking images from the current Dior commercial isn't caused by the makeup itself, who is to blame for making the footage look like it was passed through a clarity filter set to -100?  

Perhaps we will never know for certain if it was the fault of the photographer, his retouching team, the advertising agency's retouching team, or even the video editors responsible for the final video render.  What we do know is there needs to be a higher standard for commercial productions like this one from Dior.  With all the controversy surrounding retouching human faces and bodies in advertisements, it's pretty easy to see why so many non photographers are outraged by these ridiculous looking images released to the public as "real people".  If you have any thoughts on this latest ad campaign gone wrong, leave them in the comments below.  

If you have not scene the entire video, here is the ad causing the controversy among retouchers.  



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Michael Kormos's picture

With a major product-defining campaign such as this, retouchers are directed by other creative minds at an agency until the final look matches the desired result. Before I became a full-time photographer, I worked at a number of Madison Ave. ad agencies as an art director. There's usually a team working on a campaign such as this (with a creative director sitting at the top). Retouchers (and video editors) are only doing what they're being told. These things are never in the hands of a single person. You wouldn't believe how many nuances are addressed, and how many people look at the final product before it's approved for distribution.

However, the image you've shown above doesn't seem used anywhere online as part of this campaign. I can find other images of Jennifer associated with this lipstick brand, but none are retouched this extensively. It looks like a screen grab from a video? Keep in mind that video is usually handled by different people at the agency vs. print/web creative media.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yes to make it clear, this image is a screen grab from their video production. The still photographs do look very different, however this image is what retouchers are complaining about. It very well could be that the skin blur and shadow removal are from the video side of the production only. Either way, they are similar in that the retouching for a beauty shot is pretty over the top.

Matt Green's picture

Exactly. I just looked up some of the stills. They look very different from the screen grab images. The screen grab images look like they're trying to mimic a look from say the '40's.

Doc Pixel's picture

"...like they're trying to mimic a look from say the '40's" <-- Exactly my first reaction when seeing it on the FashionGoneRogue blog yesterday.

If they were going for the "Lauren Bacall Classic Beauty" look, or the Sybil Shepard look from the 80's... I guess they did a pretty good job.

Unfortunately, the look is dated (even though I like it) and is not a very good campaign going forward specifically with JLaw as the spokeswoman for her generation, before being one for Dior. Her fans, as well as she take this really seriously (as they should) and JLaw has spoken against exactly this kind of over-the-top retouching in the past. Actually not too long ago with specifically forbidding Vogue to retouch one of her covers and editorial shoots.

Someone I'm afraid is going to have to pay for this mistake.

Doc Pixel's picture

Yes I know how it was done in the old days... I was there (not the 40's but the 80's), did that, and messed up enough lenses and equipment with Vaseline than I like to admit to doing just for the effect.

Yes I agree the digital replacement here is a bit too aggressive and the "Hollywood lighting" isn't "right"... but isn't necessarily wrong just because you or I think so either.

A good time to correct my original post, because rather than Lauren Bacall 40's I think it's more reminiscent of Grace Kelly '50s.

Ernesto Gonzalez's picture

We do have a major problem, we look at things with a more professional eye. These products are done to entice the audience to buy, they might not see what we do. IMHO

Josiah Moore's picture

I personally don't think it's too much. I mean, it's a ton, and she looks flawless. But if that's the atheistic they're going for, more power to them. I am a fan of every aspect when it comes to fashion work. From a more "raw/untouched" look to a high fantasy gloss look like this. I think both have their place. Totally a personal preference I'm sure :)

Jennifer Kelley's picture

Looks like an older beauty ad to me... back in the day of soft filters and hand retouching with oil paint.

I think so many people are used to seeing retouching go, IMO, too far the wrong way with cranking up the clarify and sharpen sliders. In a lot of beauty images, I've noticed a trend where you can see all the pores on the skin, much more than if you were sitting 2 feet from the person. It's just as over processed as too much blur.

alberto cabrera's picture

You can retouch skin in video. There are plugins / techniques in after effects and premiere pro you can do this. Michael is 100%. Thou the agency is the one creating the commercial. there is a team at Dior (probably individuals that have no business or experince in advertising) making the final call.

As far as the ad itself. Its a cosmetic commercial featuring lipstick. I myself would go that direction to eliminate any detracting elements that would take the focus off the lips. They did over worked the skin, but in reality they accomplished what they were trying to achieve.

To be honest, this isn't any different from thousands of cosmetic commercials from the past. Especially from Cover Girl. So I don;t get what the uproar is about. Unless we are talking about younger retouchers that don;t realize that this business has been going on way before they were born. I encounter a lot of young designers/art directors like that.

I also notice a few agencies are starting to pull stills from the videos.

Sebastian K's picture

I can side with this as well, the only thing I'm focusing on during the film are the lips and the lipstick on them. In that sense I don't see a problem with the retouching. But when I do look at the face more closely it is very soft, but as it's an ad for Dior that's probably what they were going for.

aaronbratkovics's picture

Totally agree with "Alberto Cabrera" and also society doesn't understand exposure light or even how powerful a make up artists can be to a photograph/video etc.

A great MUA and someone with beautiful skin to begin with?? Ahh now that is a great day.

Lee Morris's picture

Strange choice. It looks retro which may have been the goal but they also removed all detail too. I haven't seen a modern fashion ad like this recently.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

they made what they want... i mean obvious this is glam-retro so they made retro glam retouch... do i like it? no!

Pascal Frey's picture

Totally agree. The only thing that really bothers me is that it seems they went a little crazy with the shadow on the left cheek. The saturation of the darkened part looks off to me.

Spy Black's picture

Stop blaming retouchers. They're only following orders.

Adrian Zaharia's picture

As a photographer and retoucher i can say that is not necesarily to much Ps...but it is BAD Ps! That d&b looks nasty!

stefano druetta's picture

let's talk about how unconvinced she sounds while talking about how supposedly she adores dior.

Doc Pixel's picture

Good point... and why regardless of her beauty, I don't think JLaw is the right spokesperson for Dior at this time. Mainly because Dior is (still) projecting a look and lifestyle that doesn't harmonize well with JLaw's or her fan-base. I understand "why" Dior is "trying" to reach her fans, but I don't think the concept works to be effective.

Logan Sorenson's picture

I don't know about the retouching, although that is not my taste for sure. But the video... The way it was cut and or whatever the script was, it made her seem like an airhead that liked shiny things.

Derek Kind's picture

My first impression was "that's Jennifer Lawrence?"