A Retoucher Tells All: The Manipulation That Went Into Kim Kardashian's Cover Shoot


The reactions to Kim Kardashian’s latest cover shoot are varied. Her husband, Kanye West, tweeted #ALLDAY, while Naya Rivera slammed the reality star saying, “You’re someone’s mother.” But one of the biggest criticisms the provocative images have received is the amount of retouching that was used on Kardashian. So Yahoo Style spoke with a professional to get to the bottom of how much manipulation really went into capturing the reality star.

Matthew Hise, who is the brand director at Versatile Studios, a retouching production, motion retouching, and digital services firm, points out to the specific places that have been changed with computer programs. The background is probably cleaned up a bit, the colors have been enhanced, and the skin and makeup have most likely been addressed. “I think that there’s a chance parts of her body have been pushed or pulled to become more expressed and graphic,” he says. “Her butt, compared to her waist, looks like it could be out of proportion. Her waist could possibly have been pushed in but I’m not certain.”

Interestingly, Hise thinks that in the hands of another retoucher, they might have received more influence. “You can see in her arms and places I think other retouchers may have pushed in more and they have been left as is,” he says. “That kind of thing stands out.”

But the negative critique of the correcting is a little unfounded. The photographer, Jean Paul Goude, is known as a pioneer in the niche retouching industry and his work with pushing and pulling a subject is more of an art as opposed to something to be condemned. Hise says that retouching is a tool for self-expression, a narrative, and visual composition. Additionally, it’s an extension of photography. “I don’t think that this is communicated as photo journalism or reportage it’s a part of communication,” he notes. “It’s totally subjective and the exploration of the tool of retouching is an artistry and a message.”

Instead of Kardashian being blasted for the amount of manipulation, she should actually be put on a higher pedestal. Goude’s work has been shown in great museums around the world and this shoot puts Kardashian in that canon. “It’s a very graphic image and I see Jean Paul Goude sharing Kim Kardashian with us as an idea,” Hise says. “And maybe the idea is that he’s sharing something that is contentious or brings out discussion with people and that’s perfectly understandable.”