“Photoshopping” – the deliberate manipulation of photographic images to enhance, conceal or mislead – is in the news a lot lately, mainly as a result of the media’s growing unease about the use of implausibly-skinny models to promote ladies fashion. But as far away as it may seem from the glamour of haute couture, the world of B-2-B PR is not immune to Photoshop controversy, particularly when it comes to the portrayal of professional display equipment such as LED screens and videowalls.
The problem is – like stroppy catwalk models – such devices are notoriously difficult to photograph well, particularly with digital cameras. There are problems of exposure, viewing angles, unpredictable moiré effects and screen refresh artefacts. Little wonder, then, that some manufacturers resort to the “artist’s impression” approach to creating imagery for their products.
Personally, I don’t like it. Trying to promote a visual product by using a picture that has been faked is questionable practice at best. Particularly so when the subterfuge has been badly executed, as in the example above. In this recent image from a well-known European manufacturer, the fake image has been badly aligned, resulting in a picture that seems to float a good centimetre outside the physical dimensions of the screen. Not good. The same image also features fake mullion lines superimposed over what is quite clearly a stock library image. To my mind, not only does this seriously undermine the quality proposition of the product concerned, but it also raises questions of ethics – a deliberate attempt to mislead a potential customer surely is not a good start to the relationship. If a manufacturer is willing to “lie” about how its screen actually looks, what else are they willing to lie about?
We do, from time to time, manipulate images of our client’s products to enhance their appearance or correct some of the technical problems that often occur when photographing screens. However there is one big difference: We NEVER use library shots to fake a screen image because it is vital to maintain integrity. We would never for a second consider putting an untruth into a press release – why would we do so with an image?
When we go on a shoot we always take lots of shots at various timings and exposures, and then use these collections of real images to create a composite or an HDR composite of a real, genuine product image.
If you or your client are a display manufacturer – please think twice about using fake pictures. With just a little more effort and skill, you can achieve great results without cheating. As they say – honesty is the best policy.