The modified Kate Middleton photo – what’s the big deal?

Mar 16, 2024

Jeff Cable

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

The modified Kate Middleton photo – what’s the big deal?

Mar 16, 2024

Jeff Cable

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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kate middleton photoshopped

I woke up the other day and turned on the news. One of the big stories of the day was the controversy about a modified image of Kate Middleton and her family. Being a photographer, I was highly intrigued by this story.

By now, most of you have seen the image.

kate middleton photoshopped

At first, people were talking about one or two areas of the image that were manipulated. Now that a couple of days have passed, experts have located many areas of the photo that have been retouched.

But my question is: Why is this such a big deal?

I can tell you that every family portrait I have ever taken has been retouched to one extent or the other.

Here is what I am typically modifying:

  • Adjustments to exposure, shadows, highlights and white balance (if needed)
  • Removal of fly away hairs that are distracting (either going through the face, flying into the air, or going into another person)
  • Removal of dust or pet hair on people’s clothing
  • Removing skin imperfections (bad acne or shaving cuts)
  • Removal of strings hanging off clothing
  • Removal of distractions in the background (bright spots, exit signs, polls)

And sometimes I will even do the following:

  • Whitening of eyes if needed
  • Lightening of wrinkles (typically around the eyes)
  • Head swaps (if a person had their eyes closed in a group shot)

During the CBS newscast, one of the anchormen said “I don’t understand why any photo needs to be retouched” to which I laughed. I am sure that this same person has plenty of portraits that have been taken and modified, whether he knows it or not.

I have said this many times in the past. I think that every photo needs some retouching, in one form or another. So I don’t understand why people are making such a big deal about this photo. Kate Middleton is known for being a photo enthusiast and she has taken many of her own photos in the past. But she is not a professional, and would not have the same Photoshop skills as we would. It looks to me like she was making the same modifications I would do, but just not as proficient at the process.

Yes, she is a royal which means that the spotlight is on her and her family. But is this photo controversy really worth the scrutiny that they are putting her through? I think that there are much bigger and more relevant issues in the world.

I just thought I would put my thoughts out there. What do you think?

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About Jeff Cable

Jeff Cable is a world-renowned, seven-time Olympic photographer covering Beijing, Vancouver, London, Sochi, Rio, Pyeong Chang, and Tokyo. He is one of the most sought-after presenters and educators in the photography space. You can find out more about Jeff on his website, follow his adventures on his blog, YouTube, and Instagram, or reach out to him through Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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28 responses to “The modified Kate Middleton photo – what’s the big deal?”

  1. Franco Kailsan Avatar
    Franco Kailsan

    There are many things going on. On Dec 28, a fleet of ambulance and police vehicles went to their residence at night for a ‘ planned surgery ‘. Planned surgeries are not done at night usually because everyone is tired or off work . That was the last time Kate was seen. Then Spanish papers said she was in a coma. News of Will having an affair was appearing . And this Photoshoped picture appeared. Why couldn’t she just video herself giving a greeting or take a normal non-Photoshopped picture because she had done so before. We are concerned for her safety at this point . It’s all very strange.
    Reasonable thing for palace to do: Kate releases a clear video to say thanks for prayers to quell the gossip but it’s not being done.

  2. Matt Harding Avatar
    Matt Harding

    I’m pretty sure Kate Middleton was somewhere else when this “photo” was taken.

    1. Alexis Cowdell Avatar
      Alexis Cowdell

      Matt Harding agreed.

    2. Stewart Norton Avatar
      Stewart Norton

      Matt Harding Totally agree. There is no way that is the original head. Anyone who is into photography at all can tell you it doesn’t look right. I believe someone sat in and her head was photoshopped in.

  3. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    The big deal is that media continues to milk this non-event as if it mattered.

    Can we think of an example?

  4. Clay William Avatar
    Clay William

    Well said

  5. Alexis Cowdell Avatar
    Alexis Cowdell

    Do they really expect us to believe Kate Middleton is sitting on her computer on photoshop lol

    1. Thom Nicholson Avatar
      Thom Nicholson

      Alexis Cowdell if she was going to do a professional edit I’m fairly sure the royals have access to people who could do it for them.

  6. Lis Thomsen Avatar
    Lis Thomsen

    If it was meant to prove she is fine, why use a photo that’s edited so badly? It just made all the speculations grow wilder.

  7. Clarence Hemeon Avatar
    Clarence Hemeon

    This shit is getting out hand. If I advised the royals I would suggest the no longer post or release pictures of any kind. The fucking world has lost it’s collective mind.

  8. Mike Eff Avatar
    Mike Eff

    bfd. it’s meaningless.
    and england has been governed for so long by a soft, weak, effeminate male political class, the country’s lost to Mus.lims anyway.
    having so-called “royalty” in any country is stupid at this point in history.

  9. Rob Palmer Avatar
    Rob Palmer

    this is a non story

  10. Wendy Avatar

    Thanks for your perspective. I understand the core of the problem is AP has specific standards for the authenticity of photos released as news — as opposed to the retouching allowed (and expected) for magazines, social media and family albums.

    This is especially problematic given that the photo was issued in an attempt to show that Kate is currently in good health, but now may not be a recent photo, but a major edit from older photos)

    It does not help that the palace has stated it will not issue the original unedited photo to prove its claim that this is a simple retouch.

  11. Richard Tack Avatar
    Richard Tack

    It could never happen, but it would be a riot if Kate Middleton (or her post tech person) produced and circulated a video in which she took the original image and duplicated the same various steps she took on LR, Photoshop, or other photo software.

  12. Arthur P. Dent Avatar
    Arthur P. Dent

    You obviously don’t understand journalistic ethics. You can make adjustments for tone, white balance, removing sensor dust, anything that distorts the reality of the photo is verboten. Even removing red eye is unethical. Before you say anything about this being a personal photo, it was submitted as a news photo from the palace, and thus it comes under the rules of journalistic ethics. If Kate Middleton had been a freelancer, the AP, AFP and other agencies would put her name in a do-not-hire file.

    Please stay in your lane.

    1. Michaël Stilmant Avatar
      Michaël Stilmant

      I agree with the article. She is not a journalist and can do what ever she wants with her photos. And she can even post photo 4 months olds for the mother day. She just had to choose a photo she likes. She as nothing to prove

      1. Arthur P. Dent Avatar
        Arthur P. Dent

        If she were just sending a picture to friends and family, that would be one thing. But this is a “proof of life” photo she’s sending out to news agencies, and as such it should be judged by news standards.

        Try googling “photojournalism ethics” before commenting on this subject so you can make a more informed statement.

    2. Dave Gee Avatar
      Dave Gee

      The agency who distributed this picture states ..”we would never use p/shopped images and yet just about every fashion pic published world wide via agencies has been p/shopped to the utmost degree … talk about double standards.

      1. Arthur P. Dent Avatar
        Arthur P. Dent

        I’m not aware of AP or Reuters publishing fashion pictures. And of the two agencies, Reuters has the strictest rules for its photojournalists to avoid manipulation (No RAW photos, freelance contributors only allowed to do minimal editing, etc.)

        Could you cite your sources?

  13. Vogue 2016 Avatar
  14. Deb Avatar

    I don’t get it…who cares if she edited a photo… most photos are altered these days. leave this poor woman alone she is trying to recover from an illness.

  15. Jeanne Lipham Avatar
    Jeanne Lipham

    I was appalled at this “controversy.” The Princess of Wales is recovering from surgery. The Prince of Wales took the photo. I am quite sure the Princess of Wales didn’t feel up to sitting through several shots. She likely has low energy as she is recovering from surgery, so wasn’t up to sitting for an extended period of time. She likely told the Prince of Wales that she would see what she could do to make a good compilation photo. The photo was edited on Friday evening and again on Saturday morning. I have had surgeries that required long recovery times. She likely decided she had done the best she could as her energy level is likely low due to the surgery. The palace said she would not be doing any public appearances until after Easter. Two weeks after her surgery, the press, who should know better, and the public, who should be ashamed, wanted to know where the Princess of Wales was. It is appalling that people can’t leave her alone while she recovers.

  16. Gary Sthland Avatar
    Gary Sthland

    The idiots in the NZ media are milking this crap like it’s the only news worthy event happening on planet earth, on another note fk the royal family it’s time to kick the nobs to the curb.

  17. J Duff Avatar
    J Duff

    Yeah I’ve been curious about why this is such a big deal. I edit photos to some extent before I post them on social media. Lighting, sharpness, contrast, etc. Sometimes things aren’t as clear as we’d like them to be, so we edit them. We have far more pressing issues in the world than whether or not the royal family edited pictures and placed them under this scrutiny.

  18. Jim Francis Avatar
    Jim Francis

    Yeah, I can not for the life of me, figure out what the big deal is. And all the conspiriacy therories. I happen to know what’s really going on here, She’s a Witch !..

  19. Don Y Avatar
    Don Y

    I absolutely DO NOT UNDERSTAND why such a big deal was made about Kate Middleton’s photos. I’ve made many adjustments in my photos using Photoshop. After all, she was not trying to deceive for monetary gain or tampering with evidence.

  20. Lisa Smith Avatar
    Lisa Smith

    I absolutely agree. It’s a ridiculous fuss over nothing, and when so many really bad issues are happening, just a convenient red herring. What’s happening elsewhere when people are all caught up in this nonsense?

  21. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    As a Yank, I cannot get into the same mindset as the UKers do for the Royals. I also don’t devote time to listening/watching what celebrities here eat or cheat about. I just have greater things to do with my time.
    When it comes to group shots from weddings, bar mitzvahs, senior shots, etc… what photog would only take one shot of that?…not a good one! I will rapid fire off multiple shots because without fail someone will close their eyes, flinch, look in another direction, and there is always a joker that will stick out a tongue or be the prankster. PP with layers and a brush to the rescue!
    Climate, wars, hunger, $$, trumpy…too many other things going on to worry about UKers with there panties in a wand…