We all know what magazines look like, what they stand for, and have formulated an opinion as to whether we like them or not. Some say they are the cause for many of the issues among society regarding self images, self esteem, and the current eating disorder epidemic. Other believe they are simply harmless little booklets with cute pictures, funny stories and half-way decent advice.
Recently we have all been debating over the idea of retouching photographs. We all know much photoshop work goes into the photos between the actual shoot and the printing of the magazine. For some it makes them feel better that the seemingly flawless girl on the cover probably does have a few wrinkles, a blemish or two and her hair is probably not that shiny and bouncy. However, for many they can't get past how beautiful this front page girl is even though they know it's not what she really looks like. All they see is someone better looking than themselves and they set unrealistic goals and standard for themselves.
Right now in the United States depression is a very prominent mental illness. In fact according to the World Health Organization of the 121 million suffering with it worldwide 18 million of those cases are in the U.S. It is estimated that twenty percent of teenagers will suffer from depression by the time they are young adults.
Now the question is, do the photos in magazines play a significant role in this widespread depression? My vote is yes. I feel that it doesn't matter if we see the process from beginning to end on how the photos are altered, we see what we want to see. There is a beautiful confident woman on the cover of the magazine, and she is prettier and more successful than we will ever be. We see what we want to see, and we think what we want to think. Regardless of the alterations of the photos we still have the media telling us what we should look like, and that images is expressed in magazines.
Also, as an art form I feel that it's almost amoral to edit photos like that. It takes a skilled photographer to capture the true beauty of someone, and relying on computer technologies to finish the job just isn't fair. The people to take pictures of models and celebrities should be geniuses with lighting, set design, and all the functions of their camera to be able to take a picture so beautiful and so real, that retouching wouldn't even cross one's mind. It almost takes away for the wonders of photography. The ability to capture someone and their essence for who they are in reality, not for who the world thinks they should be.
Friday, October 22, 2010
I feel that we can all learn a lot from the extraordinary photographers that came before us. There are so many that first began with experimentation of lighting, and different angles and filters that inspire us to do what we do as photographers today. Not to say that modern day photographers aren't experimental or inspirational, but I think it's important to learn about these classic photographers. It may help us find what we are passionate about photographing, and allow us to explore the different way we can do it. Personally, Diane Arbus is one of my favorite most interesting photographers. Let's start with some background on Arbus. She was born into a prominent and wealthy Jewish family. Growing up in this atmosphere made her feel like she didn't know her true identity. She had all of these people in her life telling her she was perfect and she could do anything, and no matter what she did in life that she the best at it. Although that may see nice, it gave her a strong sense of falsehood among society. She knew deep inside that she wasn't perfect or great at everything she did, and yet everyone was telling her otherwise. This made is very difficult for her to really discover who she was, and what she was all about. She had always been an artsy, girl. She loved to draw and paint. However it wasn't until she met Allan Arbus did she become interested in photography. The two of them married when she was eighteen. They worked together at a fashion magazine, him the photographer and her the assistant. However, they both hated how artificial that world was so they moved on to taking pictures on their own, Because of her past, she had this yearning to find out who people really were, to look behindthe masks we all put on for society. She traveled far and wide for her photography and got to know some of the most interesting people in the world. She found people who are typically ignored and disregarded by everyone around them. People seen as different, strange or even freaks, and she got to know them. She lived with them, walked in their shoes, listened to their stories. Then, she would photograph them. She felt like her photographs truly captured these people for who they were, and not how everyone else viewed them. She used natural light, never posed anyone, she just documented the raw truth. One of my favorite quotes from her is "I really believe that are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them". We can all learn a little something about Diane Arbus. She took this situation she had been put it, and these feeling she was experiencing, and she ran with them. She did what no one had ever dared to do before. She got in peoples faces and caused controversy all for the sake of what she was passionate about: seeing people for who they are. That's something I believe all photographers should be reminded of today. Yes, we can take a pretty pictures, light them to emphasize certain features, but it's important to sometimes to take pictures as is. To capture natural beauty, even of the people and places most wont see beauty in. Artists need to find what makes them wake up in the morning, what makes them smile, what gives them butterflies in their stomachs, and they need to go after it with all their heart so that the whole world can see. Here is a link to a great website where you can learn about and be inspired by many amazing photographers of the past.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Today we live in a digital age. It's all about our nice digital cameras, the cameras on our phones, on our i-pods, i-pads and the the convenience of downloading them to our computers and displaying them on Twitter and Facebook. I too enjoy this technologically savvy digital era, however I am a firm believer and advocate for film photography. Whether it's a film SLR, a simple disposable film camera or even an old school Polaroid I feel that these photography outlets are under appreciated. I personally went through a phase where I only used my Polaroid camera or my disposable, and I always had at least two disposable cameras on me. Just the simple idea of snapping a shot and not being able to go back and edit, or retake it makes the corners of my mouth turn upwards. Using film allows to to truly capture a certain moment, whether it's ugly or pretty, happy or sad. Not having that seconds chance allows you to truly see what's in front of you, not what you want or what you think is in front of you. You'll be surprised to find out what beautiful pictures will develop. The natural lighting and graininess of a picture from a disposable camera gives you this grasp of reality you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. There are even disposables out there with fish-eye lenses! With film SLR's there is an entire world of darkroom processes that are being ignored. Although you are able to adjust the setting unlike a disposable camera, you still only have that one chance to capture your vision. And through multiple exposures, the enlarger and developing chemicals, the experiments and possibilities are endless. It's this entire other media of photography that is truly beautiful, and I feel it allows you to express yourself and obtain your vision in ways the digital photography never will, even with Photoshop. Film and digital both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I encourage everyone to ensue a change of pace, and pick up a cheap little disposable camera, or experiment with film SLR's. It'll be worth it!