Family laughs off epic Photoshop fail that left them looking like cartoon characters as sceptics cry fake

Rob Crilly
The Zarings posted botched photos on Facebook - Facebook

There have been any number of PhotoShop controversies over the years, from the almost routine retouching of images of models to photojournalists being caught doctoring their war footage.

But this must be the most bizarre - if the pictures are to be believed.

"Ok. This is NOT a joke. We paid a photographer, who claimed to be a professional, $2-250 for a family photo shoot," writes Pam and Dave Zaring in a Facebook post. 

"Please see these FOR REAL photos she delivered to us...."

The finished product must have come as something of a shock. Far from beautiful portraits of her family, the photos came out looking like something from a horror show.

The photographer said the shadows caused problems on such a sunny day Credit: Facebook

Imagine the plain features of a Sims family... only covered over in paper.

The Zarings said the photographer had a ready explanation.

"She said the shadows were really bad on the beautiful, clear, sunny day and that her professor never taught her to retouch photos," they wrote.

At least they could see the funny side to their family being portrayed as cartoonish figures.

"I literally have not laughed this hard in YEARS!!!!! You can't make this stuff up," they added with a cheery invitation to share the pictures.

The photographer said she had never been taught how to retouch images Credit: Facebook

The images have now been shared almost 400,000 times, setting off a viral discussion about whether they are fakes or if they might actually be real.

Plenty of people expressed scepticism in the comments section with some suggesting it was some kind of marketing ploy.

“This is not real,” wrote one.

The couple insisted it was true and that they had a long battle to see the finished product.

“This is not a joke. This is legitimately the final product I received in the mail yesterday," they wrote. "I passed my furious mark months ago when she wouldn’t send us anything. I was fully prepared to be scammed, money gone, and no final product!"

The family's local newspaper, The St Louis Post-Dispatch, said it contacted the photographer involved who declined to discuss the images.

The buzz even inspired one photography expert to offer an online tutorial in retouching to get the same effect.