Blogger Horror Stories: That’s Not My Face!
By: Jennine Jacob

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Do these photos look like the same person to you?  Maegan Tintari, the Los Angeles-based personal style blogger behind  …Love Maegan, had recently taken part in Brahmin’s Fall Catalog blogger campaign. She was asked to submit a high resolution photo of herself with the handbag, and it would be included in their catalog, both in print and on the web. Upon receiving the catalog last night, she realized that the photo of her, did not look like her at all. The photo had a different nose which made her look like a different person.

I’ve been reading …Love Maegan for several years. I’ve even met Maegan in real life. In my opinion, she’s gorgeous, even more than she is in the photos on her blog. When I saw these photos, it instantly appeared to be a bad and unnecessary Photoshop job on her nose.  Maegan emailed the Brahmin team immediately, their response was:

“We did crop photos and had to change yours to print quality as they were submitted in web quality too blurry for print. This however was not or would have resulted in your face changing. I am not sure why you think it looks different than what you sent us… Perhaps you are used to seeing [yourself] online and not in print?”

While we all see ourselves differently in our mind’s eye, it is impossible to deny that the Brahmin photo was altered in some way. The contract signed by Maegan gave Brahmin the right to alter her images, but at what point does a company have a right to alter an image without the consent of the subject? The catalog did state the woman in the photo was Maegan Tintari of … Love Maegan, but what if she felt it did not look like her?

Photoshopping controversies are nothing new. In April of this year, Coco Rocha was Photoshopped by Brazilian Elle to appear as though she was wearing a sheer dress with nothing beneath it.  If she had a nudity clause in her contract, she might have been able to stop distribution of the magazine, maybe get some money from the lawsuit, but that it was probably a “long shot.”  Without specific clauses in legal contracts, it’s difficult to have control over how an image is presented and how a brand or publication uses it.

Unfortunately, incidents like this are not something one can foresee. Like why would someone alter a face, especially if if that particular face are gives the photo it’s value? Maegan’s fans would have identified with the Brahmin’s product more if they could recognize her.

However, when it comes to business,  it’s possible to negotiate anything, including approval rights for all images, as it’s impossible to imagine everything that could go wrong.  The bloggers who took part in this were compensated in product only, so they certainly had the grounds to negotiate more control over their own brand was portrayed.

UPDATE 10/06/12: Thanks to reader, “Joe” who notified us that Maegan’s original nose is now in the online version of the Brahmin catalog.

Comments

  1. Avatar of Tania Poli
    Tania Poli says:

    She looks pretty much the same to me. I know a thing or two about marketing campaigns. I checked the photo as thorough as I could (before reading the text) and found only two differences: bigger part of the bag was shown, and skin tone was lighter.
    I like the original better (not everyone is as lucky as Maegan in that sense btw). It’s, like, they wanted her to look like a size up… Anyway, a good lesson to learn and move forward. And never work without a proper contract before (thanks for all those great tips btw!)

    Tania

    • Michelle says:

      Her nose is visibly slimmed down and the tip changed dramatically. It also looks like her head was rearranged to be less tilted. Her skin tone is also much darker in the edited photo. It’s a pretty dramatic change, at least in my eye…

  2. Mariana L says:

    Using Photoshop to take out a stray hair, a blemish, I understand. Altering the person altogether? What is the point? The person a publication chooses for a campaign, one would assume was chosen for a reason. If they aren’t happy with that, why did they choose them to begin with?
    This also goes back to magazine lightening the skin of African American celebrities or models. Why? I find that insulting, as it indicates the editor does not believe their natural skin color is beautiful.
    The popularity of untouched photos, morning talk show segments where the hosts don’t wear makeup, the success of “real people” campaigns should have sent the message that consumers want to see spokespeople they can identify with already!

  3. I had a brand alter my face severely…to the point that I actually looked like another person! I was so disappointed, and didn’t run the photo on my blog, and also didn’t post about the Photoshop fail because I didn’t want to affect other people who were involved in the shoot/promotion. Lately I have been thinking about running the shots, to make this point: WE ARE BLOGGERS, NOT MODELS. Imperfections are expected! WE ARE REAL PEOPLE! To digitally alter our features is reprehensible. I’m not talking about smoothing a couple wrinkles out…that’s fine. But when you widen my forehead or change Maegan’s nose, it’s wrong. Bloggers have shot to fame because other women can identify with us because we are NOT model perfect! If brands are too stupid to realize that, they should just stick with a pro model.

    It was bad enough that I was nervous on set in front of the camera, but when I saw that my face wasn’t considered good enough since some idiot graphic designer felt the need to change it, I decided being in front of the camera and doing photo shoots was not something I ever wanted to do again. (Video…now that’s another story, and safer when it comes to editing.)

    I came to fashion blogging primarily as a writer, because that is what I do—and I love the perks, I won’t lie—but after that incident, I pretty much knew I’d never pursue top-tier via representation because I will never forfeit my power to decline projects, or to speak out when things go awry. For me, fashion blogging has always been about the clothes, the stories, the art, the connections—not my face. Which I like just fine, thank you very much!

    I’m glad you posted this. It’s about time someone pointed it out. On the same shoot, I saw other bloggers who lost 15 pounds in the editing process…it’s all an illusion, and a unhealthy one.

    • Avatar of Jennine Jacob

      Oh my god, that’s a crazy story. Why would they need to change your face? I just don’t understand the value of that, it’s like that “restored” Jesus painting. Or something like that… ruining something valuable by adding unwarranted “improvements.” Both you and Maegan are gorgeous the way you are.

      Now, I don’t mind a bit of Photoshop, but losing 15 pounds.

      But yeah, it’s important to talk about these things, and scary too because you don’t want to go out and step on anyone’s toes. I think here, Maegan tried to reach out, but they dismissed her upset by denying it happened. In this case, it needed to be talked about.

  4. Michelle Rogers says:

    As a professional graphic designer, I can tell you that you can downsize a print photo (300 dpi) to web quality (72 dpi), but you can’t change a web photo to print quality (unless the original 72 dpi photo was of extremely large dimensions and NOT blurry, and the print size is to be relatively small). So the statement by the magazine “had to change yours to print quality as they were submitted in web quality too blurry for print” doesn’t make sense. It isn’t possible to un-blur something too blurry for print.

    Having said that, I think she looks great in both photos and I don’t think she looks markedly different in the catalog’s version. I see some lighting adjustments but I certainly do not see “a different face” there nor do I think she is in any way unrecognizable. A “horror story”? I think not!

    • Avatar of Jennine Jacob

      I don’t know, I would be very upset if someone altered my nose without my permission. But then, I love flaws. Heck, I have a white spot on my tooth, that I refuse to bleach out!

      • Amber says:

        The perfect response!

      • Cate says:

        Except that she signed a contract AND was compensated. They DID have permission.

        It’s bad faith, especially denying it after the fact when it’s so obvious, but she should have considered what she was signing more closely. It sucks, but the blames on her I think. No sympathy from me.

  5. Mary says:

    This, to me, is not a “horror story.” You can tell there are some lighting differences, such as the richer color saturation in the brand photo. The nose appears to be altered, but only in a minor way…it in no way makes her unrecognizable or appear to have a different face. Now I am not all gung-ho about doing some major alterations to a person’s look. But when you sign a contract agreeing to it, there isn’t much you can do. The question was asked how far that should be taken. Those are issues you need to address BEFORE any contract is signed. I take considerably more issue with the extent Vogue took with altering Lady Gaga’s appearance for the September issue. THAT is what I consider a “horror story” in making someone appear almost unrecognizable. But this? Not so much. I love Maegan and recognized her immediately. And maybe it is a hard lesson learned for what you need to negotiate for whatever next contract comes her way.

  6. Avatar of Emilie
    Emilie says:

    I noticed the same thing happened with J. Crew’s photos of editor Juliar Sarr-Jamois lately. They narrowed her face and changed her nose. It made me angry, not only because she’s naturally gorgeous and they botched her face, but also it’s dishonest and promotes a messed-up idea of beauty.

  7. Joe says:

    Looks like they changed the photo back anyways online.

  8. Avatar of Rhythm and Ruffle

    Whoa scary stuff – she looks great either way, but why not just let her be herself. There’s a lot of strange thinking going on. Informative post! xo

    http://rhythmandruffle.com <3

  9. iheartheels says:

    This is terrible. :( These are the kinds of things that make me want to quit blogging…the concentration on physical appearance and the inability of brands to know how to handle things. I’ve personally not had much luck working with this brand, and now I’m wondering if it’s because they have a certain physical appearance standard for their bloggers. Who knows, but they had no right to change M’s nose, that’s for sure. I recently took part in a campaign called “Not Photoshopped” and I stand by my belief that we are all beautiful just the way we are. And p.s…it irks me to think that brands can get by with sending a free purse and be done with it. No respect.

  10. WendyB says:

    Another thing that makes me say people should think carefully before working with brands…unless they’re paying me so much money that I don’t give a fuck what they do with my face, why do it? I bet 99% of the time the brands get more out of it than the bloggers.

  11. The worst part is that they denied they had changed anything. I agree with all the people above, one of the reasons bloggers are so popular is because people can identify with them, that they are not perfect.

  12. Jeanie says:

    Her face looks beautiful, nose and all. Shame they felt the need to change it. And double shame on them for not owning up to it. They also gave her a tan.

    I like the original photo more (that’s not out of loyalty, as I’m not familiar with Love Maegan) .

  13. She most definitely has a new nose! Unfortunately, exposure like this can come at a cost, especially if she contractually waived her ability to have input into the image altering. If the company she was working with drafted a contract that said they could alter the image that she submitted, and they did just that, what recourse does she have if she agreed? The article above states, “at what point does a company have a right to alter an image without the consent of a subject?,” but I think she implicitly consented when she basically signed the rights to the photo away. I feel bad for her because this was probably a very exciting opportunity to showcase her style and her blog, and the company basically manhandled her face and produced something false.

    I agree with one of the comments above also, when she mentioned the worse part was that the company denied changing anything and went the further step to indicate that it was the blogger herself who was “seeing thins.” Outrageous.

  14. She looks so much better in the original photo!!!

  15. Rita says:

    It has very obviously been changed! And I do have to add that the original photo is much better! I understand that her contract did not protect her against this but one thing is to clean a photo, blur background, highlight the product, etc. another is to change a person’s facial features. She’s not a model they can use however they want and if they chose her, it shouldn’t be just to use her network to promote their product! She’s making them a favor, not the other way around! Ethical principles anyone?

  16. Linda says:

    Photoshop can transform a good photo into a great photo, but it can also transform a person into someone they’re not. I can clearly tell Maegan’s face has been retouched– her skin color is warmer, her nose is different, her eyes are tweaked, and the shape of her face is slimmer. And it’s a shame because she is a natural beauty with great style.

    In regards to a “high-resolution” photo, 300DPI is industry standard, and even 150DPI will print decently. Unless you’re creating a billboard, you won’t have clarity issues. It puzzles me that a big brand would underestimate the knowledge of the blogging community. Many bloggers are familiar with Photoshop, and several of us come from careers in design or art backgrounds.

  17. alisha says:

    Image quality will always be a concern when it comes to editing images. If a bloggr wants to compete for a job normally reserved for professional models, they must compromise to the image type models work hard to attain. That includes restricted diet, workout regime, and often plastic surgery. I do not personally condone these (100 per cent natural beauty); but as a fashion professional I understand what the standards are and I respect them.

  18. Avatar of Onianwah
    Barbara says:

    Fortunately for me I am still a relative newbie in the blogosphere so I am yet to have any negative experiences. But I really think contracts should be looked at more closely by we bloggers to avoid any experiences that are bad for us and our profession.
    @The Fashionable ESQ; a knock on the head is what they needed at that exact moment I am sure.
    Barbara
    http://barbsiesmusings.blogspot.com
    Lagos, Nigeria

  19. Avatar of Pinksole

    wow that is just wrong, the thing I like about the blogging community is that we get to see real beautiful girls and women. And this brand felt the need to fix her up and that is wrong with the fashion industry, they need to understand not everyone look the same and we need more diversity. She is beautiful and didn’t need any improvement.
    xo
    Rachelle
    http://pinksole.com

  20. Avatar of Rachel
    Rachel says:

    When I read this I seriously could not believe they tried to tell her she just was mistaken on what she looked like!! Sad that nothing is ever good enough for large companies, there is such a distorted image for women, or people in general, and while I like to think it isn’t always true….it seems it is.

    http://www.glitzyblues.com

  21. Avatar of Bree
    Bree says:

    I don’t understand why they would want to change her looks, they are marketing to people who read and love her blog – it seems foolish! She looks beautiful in both photos of course but her photo should’ve been left alone!
    http://www.theurbanumbrella.com

  22. Avatar of FashionEdible

    For those that are having a hard time seeing the difference…click on the picture to enlarge it. I couldn’t really see the difference (except for lighting) at first but then when I enlarged the photos, it was much more visible.

    http://www.fashionedible.blogspot.com

  23. Avatar of Agi Titus-Karsai

    That’s horrible! It is awful to alter such characteristics in Photoshop, but I really don’t see why they should change her face, when it looked even better in the original photo!

What do you think?