The ‘bleached’ filter aesthetic

The advert for Coach - photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.  Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.
The advert for Coach – photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.
Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.

Last week a couple of photo shoots caught my eye. One was this advert for ‘Coach’ which shows a professional shoot where the images have been treated to a post-production working in a very similar manner to filters on a camera app on your smart phone or the filters on Instagram.

Fashion feature for the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.
Fashion feature for the Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.

And, the second was a shoot for a magazine which also produced images with a bleached out effect. Now using filters in photography is nothing new, but I was just wondering whether this recent shift in the look and feel of these fashion pictures, is an attempt to close the gap between the immediacy and youth of mobile social media uploads, and the more sedate rendering of a formal fashion magazine spread.

Below is my series of three images using Instagram. It shows the original (left) and a couple of standard filters – not exactly subtle when viewed on my phone let alone on a bigger screen.

And then, I thought I’d take the same image and try a little Photoshop manipulation to see if I could achieve a ‘bleached’ kind of look but not as harsh as the Instagram filters.

And finally, this is what I settled for. I like it as a picture, but it doesn’t give the most accurate representation of the scarf!

Added a warm filter layer.
Added a warm filter layer.
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Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

8 thoughts on “The ‘bleached’ filter aesthetic”

  1. Hmm. Not sure. After all, in this case, what’s the point of the image if it doesn’t showcase the scarf too? And as it happens, I prefer the less bleached images. I’m out of synch, obviously 😉

    1. No – not all, you’re not out of synch. I think the ‘no filters’ tag is the backlash against the overuse of filters. I myself prefer the clean, fresh results without any filters, but I realise there is a world of difference between photographers and professional photographers and what they can achieve. Way beyond my skills set!!

  2. I think it’ll be “better”, in how we perceive it, when you present it as a fait accompli. When we have the original, to compare and contrast, it does short-circuit the opinion we have of the treated image. Saying that I am anti-Instagram as I’ve had to learn that treated pictures on dating websites, whilst seeming more alluring, bare no relation to how that person looks in every other photo, or real life!

    1. Yes, this is all about manipulation! People manipulating images, me manipulating the argument and the world being led by the nose that a photograph represents THE truth. I guess the dating website photos are just playing the game too.

  3. I was going to make the same comment as Margaret and wonder whether it takes away from the lovely colours in your scarves…but then perhaps the ‘bleaching’ does appeal to a younger demographic. Those poor models in the Coach photo look anorexic and unhealthy…quite shocking really.

    1. I agree with both you and Margaret and I don’t think I would use the finished picture for my shop. It’s hard to decide about where the more accurate scarf colours begin and the filter effects end. I have to tell you that very few of my photos ever capture what a scarf is like in real life. It’s to do with movement and lighting. We take for granted what the professionals achieve in stills, movies and TV, but we forget the hours of work for each shot and the years of experience brought to the set. Regarding the models in the Coach advert I just thought how cross or miserable they looked. Perhaps it’s because they are all starving hungry.

    1. Thanks for the comment. It looks like the original shot gets first place for scarf colours, but, perhaps, the added Photoshop masks and layers makes for a more interesting visual. It’s fun for one or two photos.

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