Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi's 'Living Dolls' photos stir controversy

Kiwi photographer Hayden Wood. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi photographer Hayden Wood. Photo / Supplied

A top Kiwi photographer has created the perfect body, but he is not getting much love for it.

Vancouver-based Hayden Wood used real models and his Photoshop skills to create a controversial Barbie and Ken "Living Dolls" series of photos.

But the pictures, which have run in mainstream media around the world, have been criticised for glamorising impossible bodies and damaging the self-esteem of vulnerable people.

"I wanted to create a surreal and slightly bizarre feeling when the viewer looked at these images," Wood said.

"Something of beauty at first glance, yet hopefully they'll take a second glance and be unable to guess whether they're real people or not."

The retouching changes gave the models plastic-looking skin, legs were lengthened and slimmed down, keeping the knee joints centred, and heads were made slightly larger and eyes increased in size.

Model and stylist Meagan Therese Squire asked Wood to shoot the series after she was inspired by rap-singer Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday album cover. Squire posed as Barbie and Australian model James Webb, 20, was chosen for Ken.

The photos were intended for the team's portfolios but have featured on countless websites, Photoshop magazines and on European television.

But not all feedback to the plastic poses has been positive.

Feedback on some websites included comments from people who thought the photos were disturbing and would "further contribute to unattainable doll-like body shapes".

Wood laughed off negative feedback and said people needed to realise the shoot was a bit of fun.

"I've been entertained by reading some of the feedback on blogs. There's a bit of negative feedback but it just makes me laugh," Wood said.

"Some people take things so seriously."

Before launching his own company, Wood worked for advertising company Ogilvy in New Zealand.

He spent two years in the army before rediscovering his passion for photography.

Wood moved to Canada for snowy winters and because he heard the work/life balance was better than in New Zealand. "The snow is definitely right but the advertising industry seems to involve the same crazy hours as it did back home," Wood said.

- Herald on Sunday

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