We would like to let our authors, reviewers and readers know that, with immediate effect, we no longer consider submissions containing the Lena (sometimes ‘Lenna’) image. This decision was taken in consultation with relevant journal editors and affects all Nature Research journals.

A head crop of a picture of Lena Söderberg, which first appeared in November 1972 in the magazine Playboy, has been consistently used as a standard picture in research papers reporting on image processing. In recent years, however, the image has fallen from popularity, with several societies (including the Optical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) now discouraging its use. We believe that the history of the Lena image clashes with the extensive efforts to promote women undertaking higher education in science and engineering and therefore have decided to adopt this policy.

Authors working in nanophotonics are therefore urged to use alternative images such as ‘Cameraman’, ‘Mandril’ or ‘Peppers’ that have comparable if not superior scientific value. Like the Lena image, all these alternatives are widely available. Useful information about these alternatives can be found in “On alternatives to Lenna” (J. Mod. Opt. 64, 1119–1120; 2017).

In the rare case in which the Lena image becomes necessary to prove the main claim of a manuscript, we reserve the right to consider such a submission, provided that a convincing reason is given by the authors in their cover letter.