4 Useful Lessons from La Redoute’s Nude Man Fiasco

Was the photographer blind, inattentive, or just following the, ah, brief?

Somewhere, a photographer has been scolded–or worse–for a catalogue image that embarrassed his or her client.

The image in question, for La Redoute, a French clothing company, shows happy kids frolicking on the beach in bathing suits–with a naked man emerging from the water in the background. The company removed the image from its Web site and apologized publicly after some shocked customers complained.

A BBC report about that apology notes that the error was “compounded by the fact that La Redoute provided a magnifying glass so that people could examine the beachwear close-up.”

This piece of news made the viral rounds a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps you’ve already heard about it. But we wanted to point out the silver lining: There are lessons to be learned from the unfortunate mistakes of others. In this case, they include:

–When location scouting for a kids’ catalogue shoot, avoid nude beaches.
–If someone on set says, “There’s a nude guy in the background, but we can fix that in post,” don’t just say, “Yeah, yeah” and forget about it.
–Have someone review your images for nude guys (and other glitches you’ve tuned out) before you send them to the client.

The magnifying glass raises pesky questions, though. Was the nude man really an error, we wonder? Or was he planted intentionally in a perverse kind of “Find Elmo” game–that came complete with a magnifying glass–in order to generate publicity for the company?

So that brings us to Lesson #4: If a client asks you to plant a nude guy in a catalogue image, go ahead and oblige them. Just ask them to leave your name out of it, so when they send their public apology to the BBC, it doesn’t look like you screwed up.

14 Responses to “4 Useful Lessons from La Redoute’s Nude Man Fiasco”

  1. Ben Gebo Says:

    The way it’s framed almost makes it seem like the naked fellow is the subject. Look over your work before sending to clients. Yikes!

  2. Michael Says:

    Looks intentional to me.

  3. James Says:

    There is absolutely no way this is an accident. Its completely intentional.

  4. Juliana Says:

    Definitely was NOT an accident. Having worked in Post Production/Retouching for 10 years, there’s no way that something like that gets through that many levels (photographer, assistant, AD, retouching, editors, printer, etc) without someone catching something as large (hehe) as a looming naked Sasquatch in the background.

  5. mike Says:

    +1 not an accident….and it worked…look at all the pub! Brilliant in an evil way. I love it

  6. Catalog shooter Says:

    This is the clients fault as much if not more than the photographer. Many times on commercial catalog everything from the location to scene has been predetermined by the client. After the shot is finished it is edited by the art director often with little or no input from the photographer. Maybe in the days when the photographer was editing film this could have been avoided but in the digital age the photographer is largely taken out of the equation by the client when it comes to editing and post. The art director should have seen this before it even csme before it even came before the client and the client should have also caught it as well as they approved it. Granted the photographer should have minded the background, especially on a nude beach.

  7. We’re Not Blacked Out, But This Should Have Been | Visual Journalism Says:

    […] post up about an ad included in an online catalog for Le Redoute, a French clothing store. Click carefully – they somehow managed to get a naked guy in a photo behind a bunch of children on a […]

  8. David Says:

    Intentional. And is it just me or is the horizon wonky? Looks like a bad cut and paste, which further reinforces the notion that they had to have seen the dude.

  9. KGB Says:

    Cheap way to get free advertising from every news service, blog and web page that’s talking about it.


  10. Adam Cawood Says:

    Just as the T-Shirt on the boy @ the end implies – “Ready for Holidays” – only the male swimmer forgot to pack his trunks.

  11. Scott Says:

    Why the big deal? I’ve often seen full frontal nudity on European television in ads, at any time of the day… (I know that most Americans are prudes… and don’t mind kids seeing blood/gore/violence during the day, but go crazy about something as natural as a naked body…)

  12. John Armstrong-Millar Says:

    C’mon it’s not rocket science . Everyone knew about it and it was a good laugh in the Art Dept (particularly with the magnifying thingy). It’s just that the wrong one got sent to the website ..

  13. dbltapp Says:

    Obviously intentional, but… a guy?

  14. Mark Gamba Says:

    Absolutely intentional. And it worked, they broke through the clutter. Of course they used an old guy, that way it looks less intentional. If they used a beautiful 20 something woman, that’s just titillating like every other add out there. But a naked old man around kids, brings up all kinds of bad subconscious imagery, of course there was a hue and cry, it’s exactly what they were after.