Fug the Photoshoot: Glee

Dear Conde Nast:

[Click here if you want to see this in its ginormous glory.]

I understand the intense drive to Use the Magic of Computers to create a photo that Is Perfect. But you know that the over-reliance on Photoshop in the place of what used to be called JUST TAKING AN AWESOME PICTURE has turned photos like these into Frankenstein’s Monsters, right? No one’s legs are properly attached. People’s heads are just cut from one shoot and plopped into another. Like, Chord Overstreet back there? It looks like you just grabbed a rejected pic from his Teen Vogue shoot and pasted it into this one. Not a single person in this shot looks like they were ever in the same room as any other person in this shot. Dianna Agron is missing a leg and looks like a robot. Ashley Fink is a floating head in a top hat (no comment on the fact that it’s somewhat suspect that the plus size girl is stuck in the back where we can’t see her body at all, except I totally just made that comment). (And LOTS of comments on the fact that apparently Naya Rivera and Amber Riley were unable to make the shoot, which was then apparently not rescheduled to accommodate them. Look, I get that coordinating a shoot like this is probably a logistical clusterf…er, fiasco, but I also would just like to suggest that Vogue would be well-advised to be sensitive to the fact that they aren’t exactly known for featuring women of color and it might be in their best interests to make an effort to highlight the diversity of Glee‘s cast. Especially because Vogue is becoming increasingly obsolete for the sort of woman who used to read it regularly: AKA people who like outfits in general but who aren’t Eating-Breathing-Sleeping Fashion. You guys, when the economy is in the toilet, and the toilet is ON FIRE, maybe you shouldn’t even pretend to care if pretending to care takes the form of a feature called “Steal of the Month” and a “steal” is often, like, a $200 tee shirt. A $200 tee shirt IS NOT A STEAL WHY ARE YOU EVEN PRETENDING YOU KNOW ABOUT DEALS? MY GOD.) Anyway. Where was it? Oh, right: this picture! It’s SO manipulated in post that it doesn’t even look real, and because it doesn’t even look real, it utterly lacks charm. Slight imperfections are what make group photos charming — why do you think people post their old class photos on Facebook?


Thank you for your kind attention,


[Photo: Mario Testino/Vogue]

Leave a reply

Comments (68):

  1. C. Halo

    All I can see are those little spaces between Chris’s legs and Heather’s legs that are a totally different colour than the rest of the background. Why are magazines getting worse at Photoshop rather than better?

  2. M


  3. Lynne

    Well said, Jessica, and if you guys would like to write a no-holds-barred feature on what’s wrong with fashion mags like Vogue, I would cut that sucker out and paste it on my closet door.

  4. AMS

    For several years now I’ve been in what I thought was benign denial of the extent of Photoshoppage that appears to have taken over even “quality” publications like Vogue, but postings and comments here have forced me to face facts. Now that I have, I can’t get over how prevalent it is. I am shocked and dismayed at the obsessive need to alter EVERYthing in an image of an already-beautiful person and at the truly crappy and obvious quality of so many of the alterations. WTF is wrong with us??

  5. Daffodil

    No way was Cory even at this photo shoot. He is fun-sized to everyone else’s full-size. Either that or they made him stand a hundred yards behind the crowd. And who do all those legs behind Jenna belong to? Geez. My four-year-old could have DRAWN a more realistic photo than this hot mess.

  6. pinkcheese

    Thank you Jessica for all of this! Also, you hit on one of my major pet peeves: the “Steal of the Month”-esque feature in fashion mags. Like you said, none of them are ever legitimate steals; $45 lipstick? $200 t-shirts? Seriously? Money like that (if I have it) gets spent on my child, not poorly made au courant fashions that won’t last a year.

    This feature in Marie Claire was one of the main reasons I didn’t renew my subscription. In truth, I’d only subscribed because it was a school fundraiser, but every month saw me getting more and more frustrated with an increasingly shallow and totally out of touch publication. I remember when it consistently had good, in-depth stories along side the fashion, not just pointers on how to set up a threesome for your husband’s birthday.

    /rant Sorry!

  7. Karen

    Yeah, Cory is a tiny, tiny boy.

    And, geez, this composition isn’t doing much to play down the Lea Michele Is A Great Big Attention-Whoring Diva rumors, is it?

    No way Darren Criss should be that prominent, either–he’s practically a tertiary character.

    It is the ick.

  8. Lindy

    @ Karen–”And, geez, this composition isn’t doing much to play down the Lea Michele Is A Great Big Attention-Whoring Diva rumors, is it?”

    You called THAT right! Lol!

  9. TaraMisu

    Right on Jessica! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Are we as human beings not allowed to be flawed?

  10. Annie E

    Right on, sister! I still subscribe to Vogue, but I want to write a letter to them after reading every single issue. The oversights, like including no women of color in a spread on American models, are incredibly common, and it is demonstrably out of touch with most of the world (see the article fawning over Asma al-Assad). I love to hate this publication.

  11. HBird

    Preach! Well said! (especially about Vogue’s increasing disconnect from economic, cultural, and racial realities)

  12. Chasmosaur

    Fashion mags:

    For a cast this size, you are actually allowed to to a couple of group shots of different groups of people. We – as humans – understand that sometimes these kids can’t all be in the same room together. It is not necessary to Photoshop them as one large group.

    And good lord – why are you making Chord Overstreet look like evil personified?

  13. Jess

    An overproduced photo to match the overproduced songs on the show.

  14. Christin

    Thank you for calling out the Ashley Fink placement. Way to shunt the larger girl in back. No love, Another Large Girl

  15. Jill

    I’m with C. Halo. With entire blogs devoted to photoshop disasters, lawsuits resulting from poor or extreme photoshopping, and general public ire, why is this still happening? And how is someone getting paid for it while I’m on month 19 of my job search? Is it Anna Wintour’s nephew who flunked out of Subway University? Dianna’s holding a bag with her amputated arm!

  16. roser

    Why won’t Lea Michele go away?

  17. Ree

    Ugh, a little less Darren Criss prominence, please. At least Lea Michele being front and center is justified by her being the actual lead; there was no need for Darren to strike that attention-whore position when he was already wearing a suit that screamed for people to notice him.

  18. LoriK

    A big, Hell Yeah to both too freakin’ much Photoshop and the fact that Vogue needs to either buy a clue instead of a $200 T-shirt or stop pretending to give a crap about “deals”.

  19. Sue

    Where is Mercedes?

  20. Lesley Ann

    They are getting WORSE at photoshop. I don’t understand why they use it at all. If the photographer needs to use it, it must mean they have no confidence in their own work.

    I stopped buying UK Vogue last year because they seem to be totally out of touch with the “normal” woman who can’t afford a £200 top, and don’t have high executive type jobs.

  21. Jasmine

    Thank you for mentioning that the two brown people on the show are mysteriously absent from this picture. Wow, what a coincidence that the Vogue shoot just HAPPENED to be on a day when they couldn’t go!

  22. Aria

    How about – Dianna Agron: only one leg and leaning with her tush out ? Makes her look like she’s peg legged and thus can’t stand up straight.

    And I agree with @Karen about Lea Michelle.

  23. Ca


  24. TonyG

    Can I get an exclamation point up in this joint!

    [Though I am really liking some of the outfits in this shoot]

  25. Kara

    PREACH, Jessica! (Consider “The economy is in the toilet and the toilet is on fire” stolen.) The first thing I said when I saw this was “Where’s Mercedes?” But I just assumed they cropped her out of the shot since she is both African-American and plus-sized, and it would not surprise me at ALL for Vogue, which does not feature diverse people or body types, to do that. I don’t read Vogue because … for what? I can’t afford anything they feature. And as an African-American woman, it gets frustrating to flip page after page and see no one who looks like me, so Vogue stays on the newsstand when I walk by.

    Cory Monteith and Lea Michelle look to be the same height in that picture. He’s a full foot taller than she is. Come the hell on.

  26. MS

    this post inspired me to blog-rant: http://owletblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/regarding-overuse-of-photoshop-in-media.html.

    and i just have to give an incredible virtual high-five to all of those commenting here. A-to-the-MEN.

  27. TonyG

    P.S. I love Lea Michelle. Just thought the world (and she) should know not everyone hates her.

  28. Amelia

    I love that in my mind, just based on the way her head and eyes are turned in this photo, there is a thought bubble over the top of Lea Michele’s head reading: “SUCK IT Dianna! You may be gorgeous but I’M the star! ME!”

  29. Amelia

    But as an addendum, as obnoxious as I find her character on Glee, I do love Lea’s dress in this shot. So there’s that.

  30. that girl

    I subscribe to Vanity Fair and they regularly photoshop large group shots that were taken in a number of different shoots / locations. Somehow they always look OK, but I guess it helps when Annie Leibovitz is practically your staff photographer.

    I suppose I’m saying that if you were going to use photoshop to that extent, why not do it properly and include all the cast, to their actual scale?

  31. Sabrina

    Where is Heather Morris’s hand resting? The only place it could possibly be would be the side/top of Darren Criss’s head…And while I certainly believe that Morris could stand with her leg like that in front of Colfer (dancer), I don’t really believe that she did for any length of time.

    Cory Monteith and Mark Salling look to either be 100 feet behind everyone else or reduced to half size. And Chord Overstreet clearly isn’t there either. Everyone else looks like they could possibly be occupying the same space but that doesn’t mean their clothes look good. Did Kevin McHale just get back from a mission to the moon?

  32. val.

    Why is Lea Michelle taller than everyone else? Isn’t she rather petite?

  33. Steph

    The three in the back (Chord, Cory and Mark) clearly were an afterthought in this photo. I’ve met Cory, he’s a tall drink of water so there’s certainly some funny business going on there.

    What else can be said that hasn’t already been said? It’s like the producer (of the photoshoot) said “how important do you think your role is? Then show it!” And sure enough, we get Lea and Darren jumping out in front with everyone else either fighting to get in, or not even there.

  34. Fiona


  35. The Other Molly

    Thank you Roser.
    I am so mother truckin’ sick of Lea Michele and anything Glee.

  36. A.J.

    When I get bored and make computer wallpapers to amuse myself with photoshop, I do a better job than this, MY GOD. I do not believe for one second the three guys in the back row (don’t watch the show so don’t know the names) were in the room when the people in the front row were. Or apparently the first two people on the left because the white space between their legs isn’t even the same color as the rest of the pic and that’s no shadow!

  37. filmcricket

    I will say this, that at least they got the 2.5 people of colour who were there into prominent positions and put them in the most colourful outfits. But yeah, it blows that neither Naya nor Amber were there (although I’d like to think it’s just because they didn’t want to be associated with something as stupid and shallow as FNO sounds. Am I missing something? Is it actually a charity and I’ve just not seen it described as such?)

    I didn’t notice the poor Photoshop when I first saw this – I was too busy being pissed that the fashionista on the show (i.e. Kurt) is shunted off to the side. But now that it’s been pointed out: Yikes. Sing it, Jessica!

  38. Andrea Karim

    Perhaps by “steal” of the “month”, they mean, “You will have to steal this, because you could never possibly afford it. Love, ADubs.”

  39. Jessica

    FNO is SUPPOSED to encourage people to go out and shop to support the economy and I have to say, I do think it does a good job of getting people on the streets and into stores. I think it’s fun, it’s good PR for a lot of brands, and it’s encouraging to see so many people out having a good time all over town. I do think it helps give a boost to local businesses, and as something designed to increase consumer confidence in this TOILET ON FIRE economy, I think it’s a clever, fun idea. It’s not a charity as much as it’s a way to help fashion businesses stay afloat (essentially). It’s fun, and it’s definitely not hurting anything. (God knows, the cab drivers and bartenders are making BANK that night.)

  40. Willow

    the photo on the actual Vogue website does have Dianna’s other leg in it, she just has it stuck up at an impossible angle.

  41. Sarah

    Truth, this is terrible. Can we (Internet) chat about a couple more things: (1) Dianna looks like Rosie Jetson with those space boots and her butt all out and her little half arm; (2) The stylist thought Chord and Cory should be in…suits? Like regular suits? Maybe their next role is in Suits? (3) Chord’s going to eat Heather; (4) Cory’s trying to Jedi mind trick something; (5) Jenna’s the only one I’d hang out with; (6) Seriously, whose legs are behind Jenna? Was that Cory or Mark before they shrunk them and shoved them back?

  42. Lori

    I love you people. I really do.

    Does anyone else think that Chord Overstreet looks like a coked-up Randy Harrison circa 2003 in this pic? No?

    (P.S. I’m not saying that Randy did coke. I’m saying if he did, he might have looked like that.)

  43. Lou

    This picture is horrifying. I can’t even look at it for very long or I get some serious heebie-jeebies.

  44. Julia

    Lea Michele does look pretty awesome though.

    Why is Chord Overstreet in the shot? I though he wasn’t returning this season, even as a guest star.

  45. Gabby

    I’m sorry, I don’t watch this show so I don’t know their names but I just wanted to point out thta a) shocker! and b) wheelchair boy looks like he’s borrowed Malcolm McDowell’s suit from “A Clockwork Orange” and is out for a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence. And c) SHOCKER!!

  46. Roisin

    First, I don’t see why everyone hates Lea! I think she’s great! And clearly the rest of the cast do too because they’re all really good friends (follow them on twitter and you’ll see that they are always hanging out outside of Glee!)Clearly she can’t actually be a total bitch if they all like her! Anyway onto the photo- I noticed the Ashley Fink thing immediately. Ridiculous! And Cory is Like 6ft so why does he look so tiny? Diana is usually gorgeous, but here she reminds me of the Joker. Chord and Mark look so bloody stupid in the background! And what the hell? Amber and Naya are so important in Glee! They should be there for sure!! Why couldn’t the photoshop them in? They clearly did for Cory!! I don’t ever read Vogue because frankly I don’t want to pay €5 for 90% ads. Overall -what a fail of a photo!!

  47. Christopher G

    OK Jessica, I’m still laughing, but you hit the nail BAM! on the head. What is the deal with photoshop? And couldn’t they have photoshopped Naya Rivera and Amber Riley into this hot mess?

  48. filmcricket

    Thanks for the info, Jessica. I’m glad it does something for local businesses, it just didn’t sound much like the kind of stuff these kids have been involved with before. I hope some of those benefits are emphasized by the cast when they’re asked about it. (I could go on a rant about the danger of consumers propping up the economy by increasing their own personal debt, but I won’t.)

  49. vandalfan

    I think Vogue had a lovely photo spread of a lady of color last month, or the month before?

  50. Bambi Anne Dear

    Why is the Puckster hidden up the back? I need him at the front with minimal clothing please.

  51. Emma

    “the economy is in the toilet, and the toilet is ON FIRE”

    That’s going on a t-shirt.

  52. Sajorina

    I like it, but without Naya & Amber, it shouldn’t have been put on the magazine because it’s not complete! Nice rant, though, GFY Jessica!

  53. Loretta

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with photoshop. It is just another tool for photographers. Like any equipment you need to learn how to use it well. The same people I hear complain about photoshop are the same people when they get there photos taken want the most work done. As photographr & retoucher, I see some big mistakes here but that is not only the fault of the retoucher but also the fault of the magazine for not inspecting that photo before release. Don’ t blame photoshop for human error. Photoshop is only as good as the person using it. This is the second image I have seen in two days from Vogue and bad retouching. I think they need to fire the retoucher.

  54. SallyV

    Yes, this photo is bad.
    However, I haven’t giggled so much over a Vogue photo is SO long.
    So thank you, Jessica and people who have left comments. I’m giggling like Anderson Cooper over here.

  55. Kimberli

    I adore Jessica and Heather, but I’ve started to treasure the comments almost equally. I’m so glad we’re able to make comments now. Oh, and all of you just made me spit Diet Coke on my keyboard that I had just cleaned. Curse you!

  56. emer

    This is an unrelated comment but did anyone notice that Vogue did an interview with the Syrian president’s wife a few months ago? It was March I think.

    Syria abuses human rights and I think it is a bit strange to feature the wife of the president of Syria – I think Vogue called her ‘Rose of the Desert’.

    Oh her husband shoots protesters- but hey that’s ok as she’s thin, pretty and photogenic!

    This is why I will not buy Vogue again.

  57. Melody

    Such good words; if only Vogue would take them to heart. They are distancing themselves from their audience with stunts like this. I agree, whole-heartedly, from parenthetic to parenthetic. (Is that right? I don’t know, but right or wrong, I do.) How do you think you get the Editor-in-Chief of a high profile fashion magazine to accept as fact the sage words of a fashion blogger who is so much more in the know than he/she is?

  58. Melody

    Also, a threesome for your husband’s birthday?? WTF??? Lets add ‘contributing to the failure of the institution of marriage’ to the list of fashion magazines’ faults. I am in full support of, and I volunteer my journalistic skills for, Jessica and Heather’s next endeavor: the fashion mag makeover. Not as in a feature that most fashion mags include, but as in– someone has got to make-over the whole damn genre before all of America’s female youth grow up to be insipid, sex-crazed woman who have to live in hovels because they spend their entire income on STEALS-OF-THE-MONTH. New fashion mag. DO IT.

  59. nicola

    it’s like a “where’s waldo” of lazy photoshopping errors

  60. Melanie

    Am I wrong for *loving* Lea’s shoes? I want them! Someone tell me where to get them before I resort to tracking Lea down and beating them off her!

    Also, totally agree with Jessica about Vogue!

  61. mrshobbes

    Thank you for this post–I agree that the Photoshopping has gone over the line of ridiculous and is happily nestled in the Land of Nutty. Another observation: I assume Heather is wearing pants? Why is the gap between her legs gray and not whitish gray as the backdrop? (so obviously she’s been photoshopped in?) The same can be said for the guy who plays Kurt.

  62. Claire

    The more I think about this the angrier I get. They’re all good-looking (helLO, Monteith, and how grateful am I that you’re actually like thirty years old so I don’t feel skeevy saying that), talented young performers, and the fashion media has to superimpose its own agenda to the extent that their inherent value is jettisoned in favour of physical distortion … to the point that all I can see is the weird reconstruction and not the clothes which is ostensibly the magazine’s raison d’etre! WTH?

  63. Faye

    @Emer — You aren’ t the only one who was upset with Vogue over that Syrian piece — my jaw literally dropped when I read it. I seriously thought it was some kind of joke. It got Vogue a *lot* of negative attention in the non-fashion media, and rightfully so. The whole thing was a kiss-ass gush-fest not only about Assad’s wife, but about Assad — what a thoughtful “family man” he is, how much he “cares” about the people, etc. Vogue should have apologized for that article, but instead, they just took it off their website. What you don’t hear a lot about is that earlier in the year the Syrian government hired a Western P.R. firm to improve their image, and basically bought this piece from Vogue as part of that campaign. So much for even the pretense of journalistic integrity.

    Back on topic — this picture is truly awful. I have to think there are at least a dozen high-school kids I know who could have Photoshopped this better.

  64. jennifer

    I see you on that “HEAR! HEAR!” and raise you an AMEN!

  65. Mooshki

    I didn’t look closely at first, and I thought this was a shot of the kids on the Glee reality show – at a quick glance, none of these people were recognizable.

  66. Jinnifer

    Yeah I’m over vogue. Not even my crazy Kate Moss crush could convince me to shell out money on their September issue.

    The most glaring error I saw here was that 5’2 Lea Michele looks as tall as her fellow cast mates. Still she’s the most perfectly styled, from those amazing shoes to the awesome Balmain dress. And I think the fact that she’s the shows lead and money maker, and really the most media/fashion relevant of any of them whatever you want to admit, has more to do with her position than her supposed diva demands. Really people, put away the hate boners.It’s indecent and you’re scaring the children.

    And I’m not gonna lie, once I noticed the two black cast members were missing, I knowingly nodded my head and went of course they are you racist fu*ks. Glad there’s a good explanation,but still quite insensitive.

  67. lorna

    dude cory moneath is soo ugly

  68. AK

    I find this oh so appropriate since the writing of Glee has become so ill conceived and shoddily executed.

    Much like this photo is pieced together, the “plot” of each episode is pieced together around the songs they want included, because the music sales are the show’s cash cow. It probably wouldn’t annoy me so much if the first season hadn’t been so darn good and different.