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Current Events

Target Misses the Mark with Absurd Photoshop Fail

By Hanssie on March 11th 2014

Being photographers, we are no strangers to Photoshop. In fact, in a recent article, one of our writers tells us why she loves it. And admit it, you’ve taken a selfie and photoshopped it, with a few touch ups here and there, right? Or is that just me? Embrace it folks,  Photoshop makes the world go round (at least, in our industry).

[REWIND: Confessions Of a Photoshop Lover]


Photoshop isn’t evil. But in the wrong hands, say, the hands of a graphic design intern, or someone in a hurry, or someone who has a small computer screen and can’t see when they’ve overly Photoshopped some poor young girl’s body into an absurd, anatomically impossible being, it becomes a PR nightmare and the results are absurd. Just as Target is unburying themselves from their major security breach that affected upwards of 70 million (myself included), the major retailer finds itself again in the midst of a maelstrom of bad publicity as one blogger spotted an epic Photoshop fail in their latest ad. Target-photoshop-fail-1 At first glance, the Xhilaration® Junior’s Midkini 2-Piece Swimsuit -Leopard Print on the cute teen model seems like a standard photo. Upon closer inspection: target-photoshop-fail-3Besides the missing hip, bone spurs in the right hand and too thin spaghetti left arm, a square cutout is seen in the crotch area of the poor model. Cue the lynch mob… This has brought the debate, yet again, of body image, especially as marketed to young girls. In the effort of show a more defined thigh gap, Target graphic designers have now started pushing the new square cut-out style it seems. The link has been taken down on the Target site, but keen observers spotted another square cut-out this morning: Target-Photoshop-Fail-5

It seems like Target hired some retouchers from the Chinese government. [REWIND: The Chinese Government’s [Latest] Epic Photoshop Fail]. But seriously, retailers need to start thinking about the message they are trying to perpetuate…and no, it’s not that square cutouts are the new trend, but perfectly shaped bodies only exist on Barbies and in Photoshop…if retouched correctly that is.

via Jezebel, Daily Mail

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Christina De Grande

    Boy, I thought I was bad a Photoshop. Seems perhaps I could easily get a job editing for Target with no problem.

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  2. Dave

    DAT A$$!!!

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  3. beth

    This “debate” is getting old. Whenever you see a male model it is the exact same thing. Some unrealistic ideal of society. Yet you only ever hear about how there is a war against women. I am not saying these images of unrealistic people are not shoved down our throats everyday. But if some random picture makes you feel that bad about yourself you have more important issues you need to work on.

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    • Cameron

      This isn’t a “debate” you are wrong to belittle this topic and you really don’t get the point.

      This image is an over-reach of a bigger issue which is unrealistic body image stereotypes.
      The models are Photoshopped and manipulated in ways that are impossible to achieve, but that image is what people think they need to look like to be a model/attractive.

      I’ll wager that you don’t feel attractive all the time every day, what makes you feel unattractive? What are you comparing yourself to, to define that attractiveness? Exactly.

      And to anticipate some weird response where you say you don’t bow to social stereotypes and you are both flawless and never judge anyone elses looks based upon what magazines and hollywood etc define as good looking. Do you not think that a large part of the rest of society are not swayed by these images? It would be naive to think that just like gender roles, exposing people to these images makes them biased in a way that does no one any good.

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  4. Bob

    I hope new employment opportunities are available at Target. I’m available! :-)

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    • LG

      You REALLY don’t wanna work for Target. They are the single most infuriating company I’ve had to work with. I used to work for Target Mobile, which is run by MarketSource, so I was essentially a third-party sales rep in their store, and the policies they’ve been enacting lately got so bad that I got fed up and quit. Their demands are unrealistic to boot.

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  5. Adam

    I’m not seeing the problem. That’s what my crotch looks like.

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  6. Rick

    After looking at this a bit more, I think what happened were the models were shot against a white background, but with a hard shadow . Someone then attempted to select the shadow region (e.g. magic wand) which not only grabbed the shadow, but any darker areas along the body that were also in shadow.

    And rather than refine the selection, they simply hit delete. I bet they were either a) such novice editors or b) had a ridiculous deadline to deal with hundreds of images where they simply gave up.

    Needless to say, it would have been so much better to have a proper lighting setup so as to have a clean and shadow-free white background.

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  7. Albert E

    I can’t stop laughing!! :p

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  8. Andrew K.

    Doesn’t really look like a case of over-Photoshopping, so much as it does awful/rushed editing.

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  9. Cody Edger

    I’m not saying it’s right and I don’t agree with the heavy amount of retouching… but what possessed the first person to zoom in on this girl’s crotch? I’m just sayin.

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  10. Chris

    The unfortunate thing is that this seems like it’s a simple slip of the layers. It’s not intentional photoshop, it’s intentional clipping of the background. The white backgrounds moved up, clipping the image. These were obviously knocked out on white, but something happened to the layers before they went to print. I’m willing to bet that it happened when the files were laid out as well, not in the post or photography…in other words, it may not even have been the photographer/retoucher’s fault. We’ve had situations at the studio that are the same. The client asks for files with layers so they can change things, and when they make it to print, they’re off-center or they completely removed a layer without checking the image. There is no “extensive retouching” going on here. Just a “stylus slip” as we call it in our lab. Good Quality control usually catches them. Someone must have been QC’ing thumbnails.

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  11. Lucy

    Perhaps they stepped away from the computer mid/edit, saved the image and then completed the job, resaved it under a slightly different file name, and then uploaded it? Just a thought – not saying I’ve ever made a mistake like that …..

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  12. Waking Girl

    It looks to me like someone clicked the Magic Eraser button, and it got out of control. Those white swimsuits don’t allow for cheats!

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    • Rick

      Yep, it definitely looks like a case of bad selection to me as well; Could have been a poor use of a selection tool followed by delete, magic eraser or even paint bucket to fill in the background to be white which then spilled into various parts of the body/clothing.

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  13. Daniel Sather

    She’s also missing a few fingers :)

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    • Marty

      And had some surgery on the wrist of the other hand! Wow, it’s all chopped up…

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  14. Krista

    Not just the bottom half of that first model.. take a closer look at her armpit area, she either has a weirdly sharp skin tag ;) , or they did some extensive “work” to her upper body

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    • Pauline

      They have taken down these images, but if you go to look at the matching top the point you refer to is much clearer.

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  15. Kishore Sawh

    This is absurd. I feel like whomever did this did so with intent. There’s no way you wouldn’t see this. And along the whole quality control line up to and including printing no one said anything? whoa

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    • Farbar

      Kishore, this kind of thing happens more often than you think (and for decades, too). People get in too big a hurry and only glance at the layout instead of giving it a solid look. Sometimes these “mistakes” are so small that nobody notices them including the public and other desginers/photographers.

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  16. Helix

    haha I guess this is what you get when you hire the cheapest and brightest?

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  17. Pauline

    So that’s what the projects on the freelancing websites end up looking like!

    I always wondered what the images looked like when the winning bid was £8 for 50 images retouched :D

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  18. Hanssie

    If you guys only knew some of the stuff I have to refrain from writing so I don’t get fired. Haha

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    • Reynardt

      What, things like: “Why did they have to cut off her ‘lips’?” HaHa.

      This is terrible, how on earth those retouchers got the job are beyond me!

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  19. Lanna

    “It seems like Target hired some retouchers from the Chinese government.”
    I can’t stop laughing!

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Same here, who knew Hanssie was such a jokester!

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    • Peter

      The retouchers were obviously from the same nation as the photographer (and seeing how the people shot are Caucasian, I’d say the catalog photographer and retouchers were American).

      For commercial shoots, they usually don’t shoot then upload files to some third-world country to edit: they have their own dedicated retouchers who they can talk to over the phone in a similar time zone. They get paid big bucks to deliver, and hire retouchers accordingly. If it’s some American photographer trying to skimp out on the editing, it’s his/her fault. If the photographer doesn’t look over the retouched work before approving it for delivery, what a fail.

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    • Joao

      @ Peter I think you missed the joke. A while back a series of photos of Chinese politicians edited with seriously appalling Photoshop skills hit the Internet, hence Hanssie’s comment.

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    • Ian

      @Peter – What the heck are you talking about? That girl is black dude. Might wanna get those eyes checked buddy.

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