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Photographer behind Balenciaga’s campaign of children holding ‘BDSM’ teddy bears breaks silence

The photographer who shot Balenciaga’s latest controversial campaign, which features children holding teddy bears dressed in captivity attire, has released a statement on the objection.

On Wednesday, National Geographic Photographer Gabriele Galimberti addressed the criticism in an Instagram statement, which he said he felt “forced” after “hundreds of hate emails and messages I received as a result of the photos I took for the Balenciaga campaign.”

In the post, Galimberti then alleged that although he photographed the ad, he “was not entitled” to the choice of products or models featured in the campaign, “or any combination of them.”

“I am unable to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was in no way entitled to the choice [sic] products, or models, or combinations of them,” he wrote. “As a photographer, I was asked only to light the scene and take pictures in accordance with my characteristic style.

“As usual with commercial photography, the direction of the campaign and the choice of objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer.”

The images in question, which appeared on the Balenciaga website as part of the “Toy Stories” campaign, showed children holding teddy bear bags from the Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2023 collection.

However, as noted by many critics, the stuffed bears appeared to be equipped with bondage and BDSM gear such as studded leather harnesses and lock collars. “There is NO acceptable reason to expose children to BDSM,” one critic tweeted, while another called the campaign “appalling.”

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