La Machine was a feared criminal network in France during the Cold War, to the constant annoyance of the world’s most beautiful action heroine. We had little to do with the network in its original form, but adopted the name after authorities forced the operation to shut down. The founders of our network (women) loved Modesty Blaise. The only similarity was that we dressed in black. Symbolically enough, we had been moving in dark places for a long time before we started our own business in 2003. Taking the darkroom as our basis, we always acted in good faith in our dealings with clients demanding a high quality retouching service. Not to mention how humble we tried to appear. (We came from modest backgrounds.) Over the years we’ve moved with more and more discretion in an already understated fashion world – while allowing ourselves more and more space. As we all know, the role of fashion is to highlight and acknowledge – not to bring under the spotlight the figurants who help refine trends.
The four walls and smelly liquids of the darkroom have been turned into a shiny screen on a desk. But the photography still undergoes remarkable metamorphoses: From being a brilliant glimpse in the eye of an art director or photographer, to meeting the increasingly rigorous standards of the inner circle in international fashion and media houses. As the analogue is replaced by the digital, when artistic assignments more or less are based on the ability to reshape and refine reality of machines and programs, we have, where possible, kept on trying to be as human as possible (inhumane however, when the going gets rough). The arts prevail over technology. So far man prevails over the machine.
Twelve years have passed and today we’re a relatively large finishing house, if not global. All employees embrace our basic philosophy: To work in the dark – an analogy for the result of our daily practical work. We’ve had the honour of helping talented photographers refine their own imagery. However, we tend increasingly to be the indispensable all black styled spider somewhere in the middle of global campaigns, created by the finest photographers and models alike, including a myriad of kinds of printed and digital media. The term ‘retouch’ has become obsolete – or rather, filled and expanded with infinitely greater needs than merely photographic brilliance: Stability, but brushed with the tip of a butterfly’s wing. Adjustment, but with an indomitable faith in one’s own eyes.