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In case you've been living under a rock, Preserve is Blake Lively's tribute to life, love, and—naturally, for someone with four siblings and a baby on the way—family. It's a highly curated peek into picturesque country living, complete with sunshine peeking through the trees, plentiful wide-brimmed hats, and tablescapes reminiscent of a Pinterest barn wedding.
Preserve sells expensive sauce. Preserve does a poor job wrapping stuff. Martha Stewart isn't into it, and the site is weathering its first real controversy, but we're here to talk about one thing and one thing only: the pictures.
We'd typically save this question for our best Seinfeld impression, but seriously: What is the deal with the Preserve's photography?! Crystal-clear photographs of everything from suggested workouts to kids frolicking in the woods are filtered beyond recognition. Those envy-inducing, oh-so-perfect party photos? Tinted more colors than the onesies Blake's model-looking friends dyed together. Even Blake's subtle pregnancy announcement, with its falsified sunset hues, looks like it was put through some sort of digital spin art situation.
Dying to get to the bottom of this bizarre visual assault, we asked a photographer friend for her candid take on the color-soaked matter. Here's what she told us:
"I looked at the photographers and none of them have bad portfolios! One of the girls that shoots for them has Starbucks and Restoration Hardware as clients. All of her images are super clean and beautiful, so it must to be on Blake's end that they add those purple-toned filters. Those are very common among wedding photographers, so I'm guessing that whoever's running the site also has a background in weddings.
Also, I noticed some of the features have Blake's brother listed as the editor. I looked him up and apparently he is a photographer, though he doesn't have a website under his name. The only photos that show up are from her site. It might mean he is the one doing post-production on the images, but I don't know! You can see that style of purple-toned color filters for Lightroom here and here. There are a bunch of these kinds of filters, but these are two very popular ones."
Still perplexed, we decided to delve even further and ask some of Racked's other photog friends what they think of Blake's Preserve pics and those wack editing choices.
Mark Iantosca, photographer
"It seems really passé and forced. I don't think people are into heavy filters anymore, except for cheesy wedding photographers and newbie Instagrammers. I really don't get her filter choice. (Looks like someone loves Lomography!) It seems like it was just put through VSCO Cam or lots of heavy Photoshop. The photography is really not my style, but I guess some people like it. The whole thing reminds me of a really bad holiday gift market. I don't understand who buys this stuff."
Alex Remnick, multimedia specialist for NJ Advance Media
"Well, the pictures are taken by someone who clearly has potential, but they are so over-Valencia'd that it kind of negates any quality they may have had. It's like I'm looking at a barrage of mediocre amateur photographs through a brown-tinted window. The photo of the weightlifter is probably the strongest from the bunch—good composition, interesting angle, and clear lighting—but unfortunately falls victim to the filter as well."
Sophie Elgort, fashion photographer
"They look like very filtered Instagram photos. As a photographer, other people's styles don't bother me. I wouldn't necessarily choose to take photos like that, but it doesn't bug me. Perhaps they are trying to find a way to make all the photos have a consistent, vintage look, and they thought this would be a good solution."
The verdict: There's a whole lot of post-production futzing to be had over at Preserve, so don't think those filtered pics are going anywhere any time soon.