Exquisite Corpse | Letters | Chicago Reader

Exquisite Corpse 

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Dear editor,

After being interviewed by Tori Marlan ["Bend Me, Shape Me," August 24], I suspected the chance of her embracing the spirit of Digital TransformHer was about as likely as white supremacist Matt Hale admitting he admires Tiger Woods.

Overall, I don't have many problems with the facts of her article, just with the attitude and tone of how the facts were presented. Like for many people, it was difficult to read my quotes taken somewhat out of context, and knowing the reader is not going to have the advantage of hearing my voice inflection or having a broader understanding of my perspective. Ms. Marlan disregarded my requests to keep an emphasis on Digital TransformHer and skip the fluff regarding the details of my personal life. But it was her article, and I knew if I wanted some publicity I was going to have to take the good with the bad.

However, her perspective referring to the "loathsome pink" and "looking about as natural and as healthy as an embalmed corpse" was simply dishonest. When she expressed dissatisfaction regarding a shade of lipstick, I agreed with her and told her I would adjust the hue in the final print. And that is exactly what I did.

I have to assume the picture she is referring to as "an embalmed corpse" was overexposed and blown out to give an ethereal or a high-fashion look. A "natural and healthy" look was not the goal for that particular photo. When I asked Ms. Marlan if she liked the results of her shoot she said yes. When given her proofs, she had difficulty narrowing her selections to two or three photos and asked for around a dozen pictures. When given her final prints she did not express any dissatisfaction. I think it was fair for me to assume she was pleased with the results of her photo shoot.

If she wasn't, she should have told me, not ordered pictures and written her article. Or she should have given me the opportunity to address her unhappiness and reprint her photos, just like I would have done for a "real" customer.

If she lied to me for the sake of staying true to her predetermined goal of beating up the beauty industry, that is unprofessional beyond my comprehension. The fact that she deceived me for the sole purpose of wrapping up her article on a negative note is insidious.

Jerry Malik

Digital TransformHer

Tori Marlan replies:

When Malik asked me if I liked the photos, I did say yes. I wasn't lying. They are nice photos, artistically and technically--"on par with images you'd find in any fashion magazine," as I said in my article. But I also told him that I felt little connection to the photos--for reasons that have nothing to do with his skills as a photographer or retoucher--and that's essentially what I wrote in my conclusion.

For the purposes of my story, I picked the photos I wanted to see enlarged and retouched from proof sheets. I didn't order photos after Malik gave me the prints.

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