The camera never lies….

Last week Nikon took down a winning entry in an amateur photo competition. The photo in question was a low angle shot taken looking up through a ladder. The outer rings framed a flying plane overhead at just the right time. Whilst this composition was initially a very creative idea it turns out the image itself was edited using Adobe Photoshop with the placement of the airplane being on a separate layer.

This isn’t the first time that Photoshop has been used to add (or even hide) certain features that were unachievable in the real world. Models have gone from having legs disappear to growing extra fingers.

Here are some examples of where people have tried to use Photoshop and failed.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2010

Apparently Nikon weren’t the only ones who made a blunder with their photo contest winners. In 2010 National Geographic awarded this image below 1st place in an amateur photography competition. It was later revealed that the picture had been doctored in Photoshop. The most embarrassing part however was that it took the photographer to admit this himself as National Geographic didn’t suspect a thing.

Hosni Muarak leads the group

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was amongst the many world leaders who attended an event. The picture below is from an Egyptian newspaper that felt like the only way to show their superiority was to move their president to the front of the group.

Dove Real Beauty Ad

This ad went from being a positive message to women everywhere to being as genuine as a ‘no make-up’ selfie all your annoying friends post.
Back in 2005 Dove had launched a campaign to break down the perceptions of beauty. The ad showed how their new firming lotion worked on regular women of all sizes and ethnicities and how you didn’t need to be an airbrushed magazine model to feel beautiful. However, a few weeks later the photographer himself came out and confessed the difficulties he had had with the campaign with all the retouching he had to do in Photoshop which led to a massive public outcry.

Ralph Lauren

It’s quite obvious what is wrong with the image below. As it turns out this image was added as a last minute thing when the model that posed for this picture was unceremoniously fired for being ‘overweight’. And by ‘overweight’ we mean weighing 120 pounds.

George Bush’s Ad Campaign

Being one of USA’s most loathed presidents isn’t the most sought after title. When George W. Bush ran for presidency for the second time his campaign created a series of ads titled ‘Whatever it Takes’. A closer look at these showed how the marines in the background – who had turned up to show support – had been digitally replicated to appear in larger numbers. His opposition Sen John Kerry’s camp were quick to point this out but it was “Dubya” who had the last laugh when he got elected for a second term. The rest, as they say, is history. Much like this campaign.

From a designer’s point of view it’s very easy to get caught up in the editing process to the point where it’s difficult to determine if you’ve gone too far. With the various pressures surrounding you such as impossible deadlines, workload etc… the power of Photoshop’s quick editing tools is something most designers are reluctant to relinquish. But the next time you think that all your problems can be fixed by clicking that little blue icon take a moment or two to think about the consequences.

To quote Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Hakim Shujaee is a Creative Thinker and Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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