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News & Insight

The First Photoshopped Photo | Topless & Tanned In Bora Bora, ‘Jennifer In Paradise’

By Kishore Sawh on June 14th 2014


It’s that name. How many incarnations of it, how many times, and for how many years have we been greeted with that screen? That blue screen that seemed to take the same approach for design evolution as Porsche – slow. For those of a retouching persuasion, that screen is was like the inside one’s eyelids; seen so often it was all at once familiar, and yet details are hard to recall. But over time there was usually a part that was recognizable, and it was a name: Thomas Knoll (really small and difficult to see here but it’s the first name).


Thomas was Photoshop’s original developer, hence his name’s prominent placement on the greeting/loading screen. Another Knoll’s name however, is not seen: his brother John, whose contribution to the editing software was not only as developer, but provided what was, essentially, the first Photoshopped image.

‘Jennifer In Paradise,’ it was called. Jennifer was his then girlfriend, and later that day, his fiancee. The paradise? Bora Bora. So they didn’t really go out on a limb in naming the photo, not at all like the limb they went on with Photoshop. Still, that photograph became a sort of historical stamp when Photoshop was developed into something deemed sellable, and there needed to be a demonstration piece.

[REWIND: A Sneak Peak Of A New Photoshop CC Feature]

Jennifer in Paradise.tif ñ the first photoshopped pictureBrothers Knoll sent over their original Je

Keep in mind it was the late 80’s, when digital images weren’t exactly commonplace, so while visiting friends at Apple’s Advanced Technology Group lab, John took advantage of a flatbed scanner they had, uncommon then, and scanned the only photo he had on him – Jennifer, tanned and topless, on a beach in Bora Bora, staring out at a background as beautiful as what sat affront it.

The image’s symbolism, though not intended, isn’t lost on many; that here is a woman staring at an endless horizon just as the dawn of ‘lying’ photographs was emerging. A Dutch artist, Constant Dullaart, even uses the image as a muse for his own art installation at a London show, though John, according to the Guardian, doesn’t seem particularly pleased.

There’s an early Photoshop demonstration that’s on YouTube, where you can see John manipulate the ‘Jennifer In Paradise’ image. It’s history. It really is.

Source: The Guardian

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar


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  2. Tobias Heyl

    Well that sure as heck did start a(n unfortunate) series of many, many deceptive images on the web – and also on printed media of course.

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  3. Matt Walsh

    I like how that was the only photo he had on him.

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