We used to say pictures can't lie. But now they can.
The new issue of Redbook touts "The Real Julia" Roberts, but there's not much that's real about the cover photo. The editors grafted a photo of Roberts' head onto a picture of her body — taken four years ago! The magazine said it did it to get a "cover that would pop on the newsstand."
Last month, they did it to Jennifer Aniston. I think she looks good enough as is, but her publicist says Redbook lengthened her hair, took her pants and left hand from one picture, her right arm from another, and her head from still another.
In January, actress Kate Winslet complained about her ultra-skinny cover photo in Britain's GQ. The magazine admits they shrank her legs. "I don't look like that," Winslet said, "and I don't desire to look like that."
George magazine once altered Barbara Walters' cover shot, making her thinner and taller. Walters says she didn't mind, since thinner and taller are good.
Others change pictures to be more politically correct. Marketers changed the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album for a poster by removing a cigarette from Paul's hand. Steven Spielberg removed guns from the cops' hands in the re-release of E.T.
A Real Bermuda Triangle
Others do it to save money.
The island of Bermuda has beautiful beaches … good scuba diving … and a different culture … people really wear Bermuda shorts with jackets and ties.
And Bermuda sure looks great in the government's print ads, but island photographer Graeme Outerbridge noticed something odd about the ads.
"It hit me right away that the, some of the pictures weren't, in fact, Bermuda," he said.
Outerbridge recognized one picture as a stock photo taken in — Hawaii!
"I thought, they can't be this stupid, to actually run pictures that are not the destination and think the people that live in Bermuda wouldn't recognize it," Outerbridge said.
Word of the pictures quickly got out in Bermuda; people told us they were shocked.
"It's not fair for the people who are paying money to travel here," one woman said.
Another said, "Bermuda should represent Bermudians — and why not use Bermuda?"
Why not? The Bermuda Sun, the local newspaper agreed, and reporter Alex O'Reilly brought her friend to the beach and shot her own version of the ad — for $200.
"We just stood there in the water and tried to match up my body with the model's body, and just sort of had a laugh about it," said Erin Field, who posed for the photo.
Renee Webb, Bermuda's minister of tourism, says there's nothing wrong with using stock photos.
"What is important about the stock photography is that it does not misrepresent Bermuda," Webb said.
Referring to a picture of a woman on a beach, she said the picture's intent "was to create a mood of style and charm that Bermuda indeed has."
But the photo is Hawaii. It's Hawaii's mood people are looking at.
Webb insisted, "There is nothing in that picture that can tell you where that is."
Webb told us stock photos were cheaper, because it would cost thousands of dollars to hire a photographer and model to get that shot in Bermuda. I could see using stock photos of Bermuda if they were cheaper. But in this case, I told Webb, the local newspaper took the photo for just a few hundred dollars.
"It wasn't costly for the local paper, but the local paper wasn't shooting a global tourism campaign, either," Webb said, adding, "If you want a mediocre campaign, then you pay accordingly. … if you want a Rolls-Royce, you pay a Rolls-Royce price."
Pay a Rolls-Royce price for pictures of the wrong beach?
Give me a break.