Model And Photographer Call Swimwear Company Out For Altering Photos And Using Them Without Permission

Aug 29, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

Model And Photographer Call Swimwear Company Out For Altering Photos And Using Them Without Permission

Aug 29, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

photoshopped_swimwear_shoot1
Screenshot of the original photo and the altered photo.

After discovering each other through Instagram, underwater photographer, Pip Summerville, and model/self proclaimed mermaid, Meaghan Kausman, decided to take on a personal project together. Summerville wanted to take photos of Kausman posing in a swimming pool and when Fella Swim heard about the pairing, they were nice enough to offer up some free swimwear for the model to use in the photoshoot. According to a statement made by Kausman, the entire shoot was a collaboration and no payment ever changed hands.

Which is why it was especially shocking for Kausman and Summerville to discover their images on the swimwears Instagram account only days after Summerville posted them to her own Instagram. Not only had Fella Swim posted the images without receiving prior permission, they also photoshopped the model’s size 8 figure into a much smaller frame.

Kausman, whose father works as a positive body image advocate, was outraged with the manipulations, just as much as Summerville was outraged her photos were used without consent or notice. Kausman posted the side by side comparison you see above onto her Instagram account along with this message calling Fella Swim out:

Making art is my passion. Creating beautiful photos and meeting inspiring people has really given me a new lease on life. I recently did a photoshoot wearing Fella Swim, with an extremely passionate and talented underwater photographer, Pip,@seagypsea_photography Her photos are magical; they capture women in water and celebrate their beauty. This morning I was extremely shocked to see that Fella Swim had uploaded a photoshopped version of Pip’s original photo to their Instagram page. They had drastically altered my body, thinning out my stomach and thighs in an attempt to box me in to the cultural ideal of beauty. Above is their version, below is the real version. My body is a size 8, not a size 4. That’s my body! I refuse to stand by and allow ANY company or person to perpetuate the belief that “thinner is better”.  All women are beautiful, and we come in different shapes and sizes! This industry is crazy!!!! It is NOT OKAY to alter a woman’s body to make it look thinner. EVER!”

According to The Courier Mail, Fella Swim eventually removed the altered image and offered this (sort of) apology to Summerville and Kausman:

Meaghan is actually incredibly beautiful and we love the original image by @seagypsea_photography. We meant no disrespect for photoshopping the image and apologize that it has offended some people here. Unfortunately like most magazines, media and images you see on here, the girls have been retouched to look, taller, thinner and different to what they really [sic], and yes, all to see a product. Apologies to @meagsk you have made a point of us and we will remove the image. If we knew this would upset you, we would of [sic] never posted it.”

Personally, I got a little confused when they called it unfortunate that most magazines alter images of models in an open apology to a model to whom they did the same thing to. It’s almost like saying, “Look, it’s unfortunate we have to Photoshop models, but everyone else is doing it, too. It’s just the way it is now and I hope you can get used to it.”

What’s your take on Fella Swim’s stance? Is Photoshopping models to make them appear thinner an industry norm that will never go away or is there hope for body image advocates like Kausman?

[ via Huffington Post | News.Au ]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 responses to “Model And Photographer Call Swimwear Company Out For Altering Photos And Using Them Without Permission”

  1. Retro Photostudio Avatar
    Retro Photostudio

    : Model & Photographer Call Swimwear Company Out For Altering Photos & Using Them … ironic..original way more beautiful!

  2. Rafael Lago Avatar
    Rafael Lago

    Bad attitude, and a bad apology from a bad PR.

  3. Jim Johnson Avatar
    Jim Johnson

    I’m usually not a absolute stickler for grammar, but it really annoys me that their apology would be filled with so many grammatical errors and typos. It gives the impression that they don’t really care about what they are actually saying.

  4. A Dutton Avatar
    A Dutton

    That “apology” looks like it was written by a 5th grader, and doesn’t strike me as sincere at all.

  5. Mary RobinsonPhotography Avatar
    Mary RobinsonPhotography

    so did they even apologize for the copyright infringement?

  6. Ezra Ekman Avatar
    Ezra Ekman

    I find the comments/responses to this article so far to be, frankly, disappointing.

    So many organizations simply appropriate images for commercial gain and then, when called out about it, claim ignorance or, even worse, that it’s perfectly acceptable, and then go on to attempt to convince the photographer that they should be glad to have received the exposure, rather than receive any form of compensation. But Fella Swim did not respond this way.

    Instead, they immediately apologized for the transgression. Furthermore, they also apologized for altering the image – something that we all know is pervasive in the industry. I don’t see why there’s any confusion about their phrasing: they called the common photoshopping models into smaller sizes “unfortunate” because, as any professional photographer knows, this is a common and expected process in the photographic and fashion industry, and implied that they felt it was necessary for them to follow that trend. Regardless, they apologized for doing so.

    You can disagree with their beliefs, and you can disagree with their choice to follow an obvious industry trend. But it is THEIR CHOICE. They did not have to apologize for making that choice, because it is theirs to make, like so many of their peers. They apologized for making it anyway, to be polite. It is “unfortunate” that others see fit to criticize them for doing so.

    They SHOULD apologize for the unauthorized use of the image, and for the unauthorized alteration. Fortunately, they did. Compensation is probably called for here, and I’m sure that Fella Swim, Pip Summerville, and Meaghan Kausman can each work out a suitable financial agreement for the use of that image, sans modification, assuming that each of the creators haven’t been rubbed the wrong way too much over this issue. It would be my hope that, upon the immediate removal and apology, they would see that Fella Swim intended no disrespect. Furthermore, this provides a unique opportunity to publish an unmodified (from the photographer’s image, anyway) image for public commercial use. That really depends on how forgiving and understanding the creators are willing to be, I suppose. I’d be quite surprised if Fella Swim would pass up such an opportunity. It’s win-win for all: Fella Swim gets an incredible image, Pip Summerville gets compensated for her work as well as the desirable (though not sole) exposure of her abilities, and Meaghan Kausman can point to this as an example not only of her original, unmodified body image being used commercially, but also of a company being willing to compromise on their normal modus operandi.

    Stella needs to apologize for their transgression, which they have. Pip should be compensated. Meaghan, in my opinion, should see this as an opportunity to educate, rather than merely be outraged. Each of the commenters who have chosen to focus on the flaws within the apology (Grammar? Really?), rather than focus on the fact that the apology was so quickly forthcoming should, in my opinion, re-think their priorities. All of these are possible, should folks choose to make them so. Ultimately, it boils down to this: can’t we all get along?

  7. Frank Nazario Avatar
    Frank Nazario

    This is the perfect example of 2 things that happen to photographers all the time and we could prevent or at least monetize on it … had it been with money exchange or colaboration…
    ONE- COPYRIGHT YOUR IMAGES AS SOON AS THEy ARE COPIED TO YOUR LAPTOP… of course not that radical but you get the picture… it is a flat rate so it costs the same if you submit 1 or 100 at ONCE and it wil cost the same….

    TWO- SCREEN SHOT EVERYTHING AND MAKE SURE THE DATE OF THE SCREENSHOT OR PHOTO IS CLEARLY MARKED OR PRESENT IN THE SCREENSHOT.
    IF IT HAPPENS DURING MULTIPLE DAYS… SCREENSHOT EVERY ONE OF THEM!!!!

    DO NOT ACCEPT ANY COMMUNICATIONS COMMING FROM THE OFFENDING ENTITY… any … public or private.

    Contact your local copyright lawyer, they loooooooove these cases. Believe me, you will be glad you did. A company that uses any digital image without perimission or without proper compensation deserves NO lineancy from you … specially if you understand that they are a profitable entity… Many photographers have been taken advantage that way.

    DON”T FEEL THAT A PUBLIC APOLOGY IS ENOUGH… IF YOU BITE THE HOOK AT THE END THEY WILL BE RACKING UP THE MONEY AND LAUGHING AT YOUR ASS, and doing it again if not to you to some fellow photographer.

  8. John Hagar Avatar
    John Hagar

    Why is everyone surprised? What is the issue and why the kerfuffle? Marketing is marketing – it is designed to promote commercial gain. If they hire a model, it is the company’s image – anything is fair game (assuming there is a model release. If they had put lizard skin on a swimsuit model and changed her from a size 16 to a size 2 – fair game.

    This company, however, should be sued for using a non-released image for advertising sans a release.