If in doubt, blur it out
On a photo shoot last week, we were shooting a bathroom scene at a stunning Georgian house in Camden. Its feminine bathroom was fully equipped for relaxing, with French windows leading out to a beautiful garden, and a luxuriously deep, claw-foot bath next to a strikingly designed and well-stocked bookcase.
I was project manager on the shoot, and in that role you can end up thinking about big-picture issues (lighting, say) and small details (e.g. density of bubbles in the bath), and missing the stuff in between. That, at least, is my excuse for not having noticed the actual books in the aforementioned bookcase.
Looking back at the shots in the office, it turned out that the owner of the house seemed to have a penchant for history books – specifically those about twentieth century dictators. Now, I know I should’ve noticed the names screaming out – Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Castro and Franco aren’t exactly on brand for a women’s beauty range – but I didn’t. So at least I had our retoucher.
I asked him to obscure the titles as subtly as he could. Unfortunately this led to a series of dodgy attempts, which included swapping the original titles for some sugary alternatives he made up, like My Wedding, and Jamey’s First Years (which didn’t sit quite right with the dark red and military green book spines). So, finally I asked our Art Director to blur the books completely, and it looked fine. Should you ever notice blurred-out books in ads, you will now know the likely reason behind them.