[News] Elle Removes Clothing Via PhotoShop, And The Model In Question Is Not Exactly What I'd Call Happy

[News] Elle Removes Clothing Via PhotoShop, And The Model In Question Is Not Exactly What I'd Call Happy

Anyone who has picked up a magazine with photographic content is well aware of the amount of retouching and massaging that goes into many of the photos displayed in advertisements or in editorial features. But at what point does the 'retouching' go too far?

Model Coco Rocha was shocked when she discovered that an image of her taken for the cover of Elle Brazil had been retouched in order to show much more skin than she had anticipated. So much so, that she decided to take to her tumblr and publicly post the following:

Coco is quite adamant that they had gone so far as to breach her verbal and written 'no nudity' contract. We haven't seen a response anywhere from Elle or the photographers and retouchers involved.

Do you think the photo itself is too risque? Do you feel that Coco has a legitimate concern? I can see both sides of the issue. I feel that there was a lack of communication and trust between the model and magazine, yet I also feel that she must have known that retouching and adding and removing of certain elements is incredibly commonplace in this industry. Popphoto.com was able to get in touch with someone who claims to be a senior photo editor at a top fashion magazine.

"We spoke to a senior photo editor at a top women’s fashion magazine who told us, on the condition of anonymity, that she couldn’t believe it either, but more because she was surprised that Roche didn’t assume, or guess, that this would happen. The editor told us that it’s common practice for a model to wear a bodysuit under a dress like that, and that, particularly if the bodysuit is not part of the look’s design, it is understood that it will be removed during postproduction. It is, after all, a fashion magazine, and the photo must look like the dress. Particularly, said the editor, when it’s an image that’s being shot for the cover."


I'm tempted to agree with parts of the above quote, however, I wasn't in the room when the shoot happened so I can't say for sure if her wishes were completely thrown out the window or not. She is absolutely entitled to having her wishes respected, but she must know that this sort of thing could happen in her line of work, where retouching and altering is the norm.

I've scoured the internet for some sort of a 'before' picture so that we can really see how much retouching is at play (and so that we can all really have a firm opinion on this), but as of midnight, May 13th, I've seen no such photo, and unfortunately I don't expect one to surface. Here is the cover as it went to press:

What do you think? Completely acceptable, or was the end result of the retouching far out of line?

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I think she must have been pretty naive to think that wouldn't happen.

Tobias Solem's picture

I think that the business has become far too cynical to take that approach. Breaking a contract and a model release just because "it's industry standard" is a sign of a dying business imo.

my girlfriend is a retoucher for a major fashion photographer. for models and jobs of this calibre, the model would have had to have seen the final image prior to publication...
and let's not forget, the retouchers that everyone loves to demonise, are under instruction from photographers, stylists, picture editors etc.... not doing these alterations off their own back.... it's the industry/publications that are to blame...

"and let's not forget, the retouchers that everyone loves to demonise, are under instruction from photographers, stylists, picture editors etc." 

Very true. Most of what we do is actually from strict and rigid direction from the editors, art directors, and photographers especially during major editorial submissions. We have to adhere to what they want, even when we may highly advise against a certain direction.

Kayzar Bhathawalla's picture

I think that if you are wearing a body suit, you should expect that it appear like skin. It is the intended purpose. The retoucher just enhanced that purpose.

There is nothing showing that wouldn't be seen at the beach with a bikini on, far less actually.

Krista Hayes-Model's picture

It doesn't matter how much is shown and if we think its ok or not, if it goes against a contract then there's a problem.

Jabari Hunt's picture

I agree 100%, but do you honestly believe they shot a cover featuring a dress then signed a contract with a model stating that there would be less shown that what the dress reveals???  If so, we should talk.  I have a bridge for sale!

I'm against any editing of this nature that isn't agreed upon or steps outside the realm of reason.  She obviously knows how the dress is made as far as what it exposes and hides, so it's well within reason to edit those areas as such.

I can't see what the issue is here the model looks stunning and I can't for the life of me see any nudity or much in the way of body showing. If I were the model (fortunately I'm not because the magazine wouldn't sell!) I would be extremely pleased with the image.....

Seeing by her side of the story -> it is innaceptable! IF it is in her contract she can go and sue the magazine ... knowing she won't work anymore for several publications as well. Big "MOB" there.
Well ... it will be very difficult now anyways once she start this "scandal".Seeing for the side of magazine -> it is what makes the sells! IF she not satisfied with the beautiful results (than showing an "attention taker" of a body suit) worse if it was showing and looking sloppy calling more attention than her make-up and the other "clothe".Seeing from my perspective: BS! Hon ... you know EXACTLY what you will do when you got into the studio / location. And like said above, as a "cover girl" you are one of the first to see the pre-printer for approval. Don't blame your "model stupidity" because someone hit on you during the session ... or you want more money now.The magazine are not willing to have problems for little things like that (as not steal images, they SPEND money to create their owns.)If you SINCERELY didn't like this final work, try to get into an art school and learn something about beauty and pay more attention on this amazing work that probably TRANSFORM YOU in this goddess. And move on ... learn with your mistakes. You have a long life ahead (5 years ... the longest ... high fashion model ... yea right Coco).            

John Godwin's picture

I love how every time situations like this occur, they blame the retoucher as if they are just some rogue element in the industry adding and removing whatever the hell they like.

Sad to see even the writer of the article suggest that the retouchers themselves may have been "far out of line"

They don't put pen to tablet without being told exactly what to do, and everything they do is signed off by the person who should be getting held responsible for this.

Mike Kelley's picture

 When I say 'retoucherS' (please note that I am not referring to ONE PERSON)  I am referring to the entire mechanism at play (i.e., whoever approved and suggested the alterations). I'm not trying to chastise the person who sat there with a tablet and removed everything, because obviously it wasn't at the sole discretion of one person.

Then you should make that clear in the body of the article. Careless, imprecise writing will just net you negative comments.

Mike Kelley's picture

"We haven’t seen a response anywhere from Elle or the photographers and retouchers involved."

" ...I feel that there was a lack of communication and trust between the model and magazine..."

Seems pretty clear that I am not singling out the retouchers, quite the contrary in fact.

Even in the title I don't single out the retouchers, but rather the magazine as a whole! Come on now.

"What do you think? Completely acceptable, or were the retouchers far out of line?"

Look at the comments posted here. If you had made your position clear, you wouldn't have so many people defending the retouchers. What you feel you communicated and the communication received are apparently not the same thing. Your intent and your effect disconnected and you can't blame the audience for that.

Matt Green's picture

If you're going to quote the article, maybe you should re-read it. It says, "or was the end result of the retouching far out of line?" Even if it was written the way you quoted, you might be reading too much into it. I think the majority of us can agree that no one person is at fault here. And I don't feel anybody was trying to place blame.

I actually copy-pasted the above quote. The article has been edited since then.

John Godwin's picture

He's since edited the post, clever-clogs.

John Godwin's picture

Fair enough, it's just that you referred to "the entire mechanism at play" as "retouchers", which is pretty much the polar opposite of what you intended to put across.

The image is beautiful and tasetful and who is not to say from the image that she is not wearing a body suit.  For the model to require that it be obvious in the image that she is wearing a body suit is unrealistic. Maybe she should think about a different line of work other than high fashion model.

here's a BTS shot of the offending bodysock - 


It probably was naive of her to think it wouldn't be taken out but, if she signed a contract, she's entitled to be pissed off really. 

Jacques's picture

 Thanks for the BTS image Mr. Anderson.  How did you get hold of this BTS image though?  I'm also interested in looking at such images in the future.  Would you mind sharing?  Thanks.

I think it depends on what is in her contract.  If the photo editing violated her no nudity policy then it went to far.  

Sye Ellis IV's picture

There is no nudity here! The model should really stop whining about something so petty. I see nothing wrong here. If she thought they were going to show the bodysuit then she should had that stated in the contract! Grow up or find a different job!!

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

She is upset because her stomach was "naked". The cleavage was bare with the bodysuit on so taking it out didn't reveal any more. She needs to grow up or get out.  Or model parkas or something.

"The retouchers" are not privy to the contracts and agreements that the magazines arrange with the models. The retouchers are hired to make whatever the art director asks for. Blaming them is unfair and unrealistic. Blame the magazine.

Hmmm - I thought it was body paint...

Having seen the original now with the bodysuit perhaps the retoucher should have left the obvious red blotch on her left breast above the bodysuit. I can only think this story will put other photographers etc completely off working with the model in question..

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

I was thinking the same thing. Unknown models are a dime a dozen. If you get yourself known to be a pain in the ass to work with, people will move on to the next model in line.

 Can't help thinking this is somewhat more revealing


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