Nordstrom Explains Botched Photoshop Job


After a phone conversation I had just had with Nordstrom concerning their unnatural Photoshop job on a Ralph Lauren model, they sent over this statement:

“When we first heard about Tavi’s blog post, we wanted to be responsive so we quickly posted what we thought was an accurate statement about the photo in question and our overall approach to retouching. We’ve since learned that we misspoke and we want to take this opportunity to correct what we said.
For the sake of clarity, as we previously mentioned, the orange t-shirt photo was indeed retouched: we smoothed out the model’s nipples, removed a few wrinkles from the pants and shirt and punched up the shirt’s color. In addition, as some of you pointed out, we also smoothed out her left hip (something that we neglected to originally mention). After taking a closer look at the final image, we think the smoothing was a bit heavy-handed and we’re disappointed with the result.
We also said in our response that we have a policy against “thinning or thickening” models. That’s not the case. It turns out that we don’t have a consistent policy on this. Actually, there have been times when we have “thickened” or added weight to a model or “thinned” a model by smoothing out bulges that may distort the shape of the clothes. It’s not a common practice for us, but we have done it on a case-by-case basis when we think it will make an image and the clothing we’re featuring look better or more true to life.
Bottom-line is this: our goal is to best represent the merchandise we offer for our customers. We recognize that there are many opinions on how to accomplish that. At the end of the day, we are humans who are reviewing and editing the images so we will never be perfect. Sometimes mistakes will be made.
It’s clear through all the feedback we’ve received that this is a subject our customers care a lot about and we appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the conversation. We’re working to make sure we have a more clear internal standard for our approach to retouching. We’ve learned a lot over the past few days and we’ll continue to look for ways to improve in this area in the future.”

One of our commentators made an observation yesterday that questioned whether or not the “original” photo provided by Nordstrom’s Twitter account was indeed unedited. The commenter, who claimed to be an art director, noted that the supposedly untouched photo was a .tiff named using words, but that photos uploaded straight from a camera are a different file type and named with only numbers. I asked about this during the phone call and will take Nordstrom’s word that original files are huge and in order to put the raw photo next to the photoshopped one on the website they had to compress it as a .tiff file.

Whatever the reality is, I’m pleased with how Nordstrom confronted the error and apologized. Let’s hope these kinds of mistakes are taken strongly into account and avoided in the future.

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