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January 18th, 2012

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.

December 27th, 2011

Is Rihanna Risking Another Copyright Fight?

Two months after she settled a copyright suit brought by photographer David LaChapelle, pop singer Rihanna once again has the blogosphere in an uproar. Recently, a LiveJournal blog posted screenshots from her new video, “You Da One,” alongside images by photographer Sølve Sundsbø. The scenes from the video show Rihanna in a bowl-cut wig wearing what appears to be a nude bodysuit with the shadows of various shapes projected on to her body. The shots are remarkably similar to editorial work Sundsbø has done, which Fashionista reported appeared in a 2008 issue of Numero magazine. Neither Rihanna nor Sundsbø, who is represented by Art+Commerce, have released statements regarding these latest accusations.

Earlier this year, Rihanna was sued by LaChapelle for copyright infringement, who claimed scenes from her video “S&M” borrowed heavily from various sadomasochistic images he’s made. The two reached an out-of-court settlement agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Related articles:

Rihanna Settles Lawsuit with David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement

December 16th, 2011

The Biggest Photo News Stories of 2011

Over on PDNOnline we’ve gathered together the biggest photography news stories of 2011, a year marked infringements on the rights of photographers, by sticky legal cases whose results will be felt long into the future, and by tragedy. The 15 stories we highlighted were the most-read news articles and blog posts on PDNOnline and PDN Pulse this year.

Which of these stories do you think was the most important news story of the year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

November 23rd, 2011

“Irresponsible” Miu Miu Ad Shot by Bruce Weber Banned in Britain

Banned Miu Miu Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a non-governmental group that deals with “complaints about advertising” in the U.K., banned a Miu Miu fashion ad shot by Bruce Weber because they found it to be “irresponsible and in breach of the Code in showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation.” The child in question is 14-year-old American actress Hailee Steinfeld, the breakout star of last year’s True Grit.

The ad shows Steinfeld donning 1940s-inspired Miu Miu clothing while sitting on abandoned railroad tracks. The ASA accepted parent company Prada’s explanation that the setting was meant to depict an actress on a movie set, relaxing between takes and rubbing her eye nonchalantly, rather than to suggest the young girl is upset and contemplating suicide. The ASA also acknowledged that the ad was geared toward a mature audience since it was published in Tatler magazine, whose readership is for the most part adult. However, the ASA still found the ad to be troublesome since Steinfeld is shown in a “potentially hazardous situation” and noted the “ad must not appear again in its current form.”

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Ad Banned in UK for Showing Super Skinny Model
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November 11th, 2011

Ad Banned in UK for Showing Super Skinny Model

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain has banned a fashion ad that shows a model who appears to be painfully underweight. Ironically, the model, whose upper arm circumference makes us think about malnutrition, appears in an ad for a clothing company called “Drop Dead.”

The British advertising publication Campaign reports that the ASA said the Drop Dead ads declared the ads “socially irresponsible” for showing a model with prominent ribs, hips and collar bones in a bikini.

The ASA is the same agency that earlier this year ordered L’Oreal to pull print ads featuring images of Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts that were so heavily Photoshopped, they were misleading. (See PDN Pulse story.)

Whether any manipulation – in posing, styling or post production– went into the creation of the Drop Dead model’s twig-like arms, jutting hipbones and globular breasts, we leave to our eagle-eyed readers to decide.

Related story

Photoshopped Ads Banned in Britain!

October 31st, 2011

PhotoPlus Panel: Getting a Tastemaker’s Attention

Aiming to shed some light on how photography mavens find innovative work, W.M. Hunt moderated the seminar Your Picture is Fabulous: The Tastemakers and Why We Look at What We Do during the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo. The panel featured a gallery owner (Yossi Milo of Yossi Milo Gallery), a magazine photo editor (Caroline Wolff of W) and an agency director (Kelly Penford of Jed Root)—in other words, a wide array of influential people every photographer dreams of impressing.

Though it’s not easy to articulate what makes a photograph cutting-edge, Hunt, a photo collector and former gallery director, noted that he needed to be excited by the work and told the story of traveling to Paris to see photojournalist Luc Delahaye’s Taliban Soldier, a large-scale image of a Taliban fighter lying dead in the dirt. Though Vanity Fair and The New Yorker both passed on the photo (American Photo ended up publishing it) when he returned to the U.S., Hunt was able to sell the image to a collector for $15,000—using just the color Xerox of the print—proving he had indeed discovered something new. Milo seconded Hunt’s sentiments, saying he wants to be blown away by a work and cited the example of Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series “The Park,” which not only excited him, but also had an amazing concept he was intrigued by.

Yet Hunt readily admitted that it’s hard to be fresh and pressed the panelists to find out what is trending now. In a word: technology. Milo said he’s been looking to younger photographers and is currently captivated by innovations in the picture-making process. An example is Matthew Brandt’s series “Lakes and Reservoirs,” in which he develops the photographs using water from the lake or reservoir featured in the photo. Wolff explained that she recently commissioned on online video from Santiago & Mauricio in which still images contained moving droplets of water, while Penford added that digital is the only acceptable method for his clients, who expect to see instantaneous results.

So how do you get your work in front of a tastemaker? Wolff said she reads a variety of magazines and newspapers, and used the examples of a few up-and-coming photographers she’s either commissioned or is keeping tabs on: She discovered Santiago & Mauricio through their submission in W’s Fashion on Film series; Chadwick Tyler was featured on the cover of Grey magazine; and Elle Muliarchyk’s “Dressing Room” series was published in The New York Times Magazine.

Penford said he looks at everything and anything, but emphasized the power of photo blogs. His agency currently represents Scott Schuman whose blog The Sartorialist receives millions of visitors each month, the popularity of which lead to new assignments, and recently signed Bill Gentle largely due to the photos on his blog Backyard Bill. Milo said he also reads a lot, both print and online, as well as travels and goes to shows. However, he tends to track photographers and follow them for a couple years to see how their style evolves before contacting them.

The moral of the seminar? Though there’s no way to guarantee your work will be deemed worthwhile by influential people in the industry, one thing that’s for sure is that it has to be out there in order to get noticed in the first place. Start a blog, enter a contest, send an introductory e-mail—do whatever you can to get your photographs seen by the right people.

August 24th, 2011

Underage Model’s $28 Million Suit Against Photog Likely to Hinge on Model Release

Hailey Clauson's lawsuit has provided fodder for a media debate about decency in the fashion industry, but the photographer's failure to obtain a proper model release will likely matter more to the case.

Photographer Jason Lee Parry has earned international attention this week as a defendant in a high-profile, $28 million lawsuit. A 16-year old model Parry photographed in sexy poses when she was just 15 is suing him for licensing the images without a model release. The case has triggered a debate about ideas of decency in the fashion industry. For photographers, however, the case serves as yet another reminder about the importance of obtaining proper model releases.

An image Parry made in March 2010 of a 15-year-old model sitting on a motorcycle with her legs splayed and her crotch in the center of the frame found its way onto t-shirts that were briefly sold by Urban Outfitters and other retailers. The model, Hailey Clauson, who is enjoying it-girl status with campaigns for Topshop and Zara among others, and her parents have filed suit in a New York district court claiming the photographer did not receive permission to license the images of their daughter. In fact, the suit claims that Parry failed to obtain a written model release of any kind.

Clauson and her parents also claim that the image—and others produced on the shoot—defames the model.

The clothing company, Blood is the New Black, which manufactured the shirts, Urban Outfitters, and another retailer, Brandy & Melville N.Y. Inc., are also named in the $28 million suit. The retailers have pulled the shirts from their stores.

The suit claims that Parry styled and posed the photographs of Clauson “in a blatantly salacious manner.” In addition to the image of Clauson on a motorcycle with her legs spread, the suit also points out that images of Clauson possessing beer, and riding on a motorcycle without a helmet, depicted her in violation of state and federal laws. The suit also alleges that Parry’s photos of Clauson in a leather jacket without a shirt, revealing “portions of her breasts,” are “inappropriate.”

According to the suit, Clauson’s parents were shown the images prior to their publication in Qvest magazine editorial. At that time, they claim, they complained about the image of Clauson on the motorcycle and, through Clauson’s agency at the time, Ford Models, instructed him not to publish the image.

The complaint, filed by plaintiff’s attorneys Ed Greenberg and Tamara Lannin, claims that Parry regularly creates images depicting minors in sexually suggestive poses. Parry’s “unconventional” work features “nudity, semi-nudity, sexually suggestive situations involving (only) women and what appear to be underage girls, many with bloody noses if incurred as a result of repeated drug use and/or physical violence.”

The complaint goes on to argue that Parry’s work is “out of the mainstream and unsuitable for publication” in most magazines and other media outlets.

Parry has claimed in a press release and in interviews that he was unaware that Blood is the New Black was using the image on shirts. Parry also claimed, “The photo in question was featured in the model’s portfolio on Ford’s site,” and that Clauson also featured the photographs on her own Web site.

Blood is the New Black, however, claims Parry knew the image would be put on a t-shirt, and that they were unaware that Parry did not have a proper model release.

The plaintiffs are attempting to establish that Parry exhibits a pattern of behavior of exploiting minors sexually in his images, and much of the press the case has received revolves around issues of decency in the fashion industry. It is more likely, however, that the case will hinge on whether or not Parry’s image was properly released for use on a t-shirt. If it wasn’t, as the lawsuit claims, Parry will need to show evidence that he didn’t know the image was being used on t-shirts by Blood is the New Black.

Correction: A version of this article published yesterday incorrectly stated that the filed complaint “acknowledged that Clauson’s parents were present at the shoot.” It does not. The complaint does, however, state that the shoot took place “with the full knowledge and approval of [Clauson's parents] and [her] then professional model management company.” Parry has stated that the model’s father was at the shoot, however he admitted during an interview on Good Morning America that the model’s father was not present when the photograph of Clauson on the motorcycle was made.

June 17th, 2011

If Whistler’s Mother Had Worn Stilettos

This new fashion spread features high production values, detailed styling, great lighting, lots of imagination… And it induces giggles, as fashion photography often does.

Photographer Peter Lippmann, known for exquisite still lifes, has re-interpreted several well known paintings, by Zubaran, Whistler, de la Tour and others. In each photo, he’s placed a shoe or handbag from the 2011 collection of luxury fashion designer Christian Louboutin. The idea seems to be that Louboutin’s sculpted, bejeweled and befeathered shoes and clutch purses are works of art.

What strikes us funny is that none of the models in the photos are actually wearing the shoes — they’re holding them in their laps, gazing lovingly at them as they sit on a table or carrying them atop a tray of fruit.  That’s probably wise, because posing in those heels could hurt. And people who collect Louboutin’s red-soled creations aren’t really interested in their practicality.

Still, it would have been nice if Whistler’s mother had spiced up that dowdy outfit of hers with a pair of roccia leather ankle boots with studded piping. After all, she’s got a foot rest.

All photos © Peter Lippmann


May 11th, 2011

27th Annual ICP Infinity Awards Honor Humanistic Tradition

A standing ovation for photographer/writer Ruth Gruber, who in her 19 books documented refugee crises and humanitarian issues, marked an emotional high point at the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards, held last night in New York City. Gruber, 99, won the Cornell Capa Award, named for ICP’s founder. She told the audience that Edward Steichen had told her to shoot with her heart. “I try to use these images to fight injustice and hopefully bring peace to the world,” she said.

Many of the awards underscored the ICP’s original mission as an institution devoted to supporting humanistic photography. In his opening remarks, ICP director Willis Hartshorn noted the increasing dangers facing photojournalists around the world. He expressed gratitude for the safe return of two past Infinity winners, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who had been captured and detained in Libya this spring, and noted the deaths in Libya in April of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. He said their work was “a testament to their dedication to the spirit of ICP’s mission.”

In accepting the Lifetime Achievement award, Elliott Erwitt said, “The wonderful thing about being a freelance photographer is the opportunity to be in marvelous situations sequentially.” In the video that preceded his speech, he noted that Photoshop, while a powerful tool, has hurt photography’s credibility. In the video, Erwitt then donned a black wig, fake mustache and sunglasses, and adopted the persona of a pretentious art photographer who “adores Photoshop.” The art photographer’s advice to young photographers: “Photograph many famous people and print the pictures big. The bigger they are, the more artistic.”

The video, showing many of Erwitt’s amusing photos, brought laughs from the audience, but at the end of the video Erwitt said, without disguise, “I think there is sadness in many of my pictures. But humor and sadness are closely related.”

Adrees Latif,  a photographer for Reuters, won the Photojournalism award for his coverage of the floods in Pakistan. He thanked ICP for honoring images of “one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.”

Abelardo Morrell, winner of the award for Art, showed his camera obscura images for which he is best-known, and also recent work he has done exploring the west, using a tent to create images that are cast on the ground. The Infinity Award for Publication was awarded to From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America, the catalogue of a Walker Art Center retrospective of Alec Soth’s career. Soth (“Rhymes with both,” the photographer said in the video shown before his speech, “it’s a lifelong problem”) said he became photographer because he is “a socially awkward person” who “wanted to work alone,” but over time he’s been drawn more and more into collaborations like the one he had with the Walker Art Center. “The truth is, I like it.”

Other awards given out were the Applied Photography award, given to fashion photographer Viviane Sassen; the Writing award, given to writer and curator Gerry Badger; and the ICP Trustee Award, given to the Durst family of real estate developers, who are also ICP’s landlords.

Among the photo industry people attending the Infinity Awards were photo editors Kira Pollack, Paul Moakley and Patrick Witty of Time; Michelle McNally of The New York Times and James Estrin of the Times’ Lens blog; New Yorker director of photography Whitney Johnson and her predecessor, Elisabeth Biondi; Jack van Antwerp of The Wall Street Journal; Chris Dougherty of People; David Friend, editor at Vanity Fair;  Stefano Tonchi, editor of W; Glenda Bailey, editor of Harper’s Bazaar; photographers David Burnett, Misha Erwitt, Ron Haviv, Rick Smolan, Susan Meiselas and Lynsey Addario who, having spent the last few weeks in New York accepting an Overseas Press Club award and giving interviews, was on her way home to New Delhi.

—Holly Stuart Hughes

May 9th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Dominique Palombo’s “Move,” Winner in PDN Photo Annual

Dominique Palombo’s video for designer Rachel Roy is a winner in the PDN Photo Annual, in the Video category introduced this year.  Palombo, a photographer and director, worked with dancers, choreographed by Jermaine Browne, to create the five-minute video. The idea, she says, was to use different styles of movement to showcase the designer’s Spring 2011 line.