Supreme diva Mariah Carey was likely embarrassed when the unretouched photos from her Wonderland magazine cover shoot landed online. Another online outlet itemized the changes and pointed out the heavy hand that went into editing the images to make Mimi appear physically flawless. It was fascinating to see her extremely nipped waist, fuller hair, an all-over wash of bronze and an emphasis on her makeup. Carey's glam squad is top of the line and is not comprised of slouches, so we were left to wonder how, exactly, a superstar like Mariah Carey could have been done up so poorly for a cover shoot!
Then we realized two key things: Carey's Photoshop scandal has nothing to do her and everything to do with the 24-hour media cycle, body image and piss-poor photography.
First, to point out each and every difference via a nifty graphic where you roll your mouse over the image and you see the before and after, is a bit harsh. A woman as rich, famous and physically stunning as M. Carey has been Photoshopped into oblivion. Maybe there is a level of insecurity there, since outlets will pounce and point out any imperfections that have not been 'Shopped, and that is why a celeb may give the okay to be totally 'Shopped. They may be willing to accept the risk of being "found out" when the unretouched images land all over blogs if it means temporary perfection is achieved for the on-stands cover.
Second, and way more importantly, Carey's raw images are indicative of how bad a photographer Terry Richardson really is.
Seriously, just look at this.
Richardson, labeled a fashion photographer, has been a source of headlines for the past year, as models have accused him of some unsavory and downright creepy behavior on set, some of which involved unwanted and perverse comments. A quick Google search leads to some pretty raunchy photos that also feature him.
Richardson's signature includes posing alongside his subjects, both of them giving the thumbs up, and him taking a shot of his subject, who is wearing his oversized, nerdy, serial killer-style glasses.
All that aside, let's be honest here. Richardson's style is basic. If we were handing out disses, his photos would be a basic bitch. There is nothing particularly artful about what he does or how he shoots.
He does point and click, but it's not stark, minimalist captures of what is in front of him, either. It's a total snoozefest.
Clearly, judging from Carey's photos, his cameras aren't making any kind of love to his subjects, and these are photogenic women. He is not bringing out the best in them. He is not using the tools of his trade — angles, lighting or setup — to get the best out of ladies who are preternaturally stunning.
While there is something to be said for a "flaws and all" type of shoot, this is the glossy media we are talking about. There are standards and images to be upheld, regardless of how "wrong," they may be, since copies of magazines need to be shifted.
The big question here is how T. Richardson keeps getting jobs after all these rumors and complaints about his practices. Why does someone like Mimi, who has earned the right to pick and choose any snapper she wants, agree to let him photograph her? It's even more shocking for Bey, since she is all about women being empowered, not belittled, as some of Richardson's underground shots have shown.
By the way, those images don't exactly live in a murky online underbelly that is hard to find, but on Tumblr and with search terms like "Old Terry," which you can surf at your own risk. Some depicted women being humiliated. To each her own, sure, but this is a man who is still shooting the A-est of the A list. It's as though a Richardson shoot is something that a starlet feels she must do to prove she has "arrived" when it comes to fashion photograhy. (Yes, I am talking about Rita Ora.)
Richardson's bad behavior has been profiled here, if you are interested in more deets of his history.
So maybe this scandal is a case of Mariah not implementing a "Buyer Beware" stance. It's not even about Richardson's bad rep and supposed perverted nature. It's about the fact that his photography style is not very artistic nor even basically skilled. From the lighting to the poses, it's anything but.