Reality check! Any woman who feels she’s not good enough might understand why after watching this.
I think this is woefully inaccurate. Photographers and photo editors do not do this to models. The industry DOES, however, hire women who are tall, fit and thin. And they hire men who are tall, broad shouldered and muscular.
I’m NOT saying models represent the average person’s body type. But this video implies that a body like the retouched version comes from some art director’s perverted sense of reality. That’s simply not the case.
This is a good example of what the industry COULD do with the technology available. But it’s far easier to just cast men and women who actually have this body type to begin with.
These models work very hard to maintain their figures. They are always walking around with bottles of water. They’re young, they watch what they eat, they go to the gym and of course they’re likely genetically pre-disposed to being thin. I’d say they get lots of rest but they party pretty hard actually. Like athletes, they have dedicated their lives to maintaining their image. It’s their job to do so.
I think it is totally fitting and proper to criticize the fashion & beauty industry for perpetuating idealized images of men and women. But don’t assume because of videos like this that pander to political correctness, that the industry is conspiring to create mutated photoshop freaks.
A loaf of bread, a flask of wine, a book of verse -and thou
My sixth solo exhibit (which features the longest title yet) explores the role of bread in history. Borrowing from different eras and genres of art from the Italian Renaissance, Dutch Baroque, French Impressionism to 20th Century advertising and Pop Art I have undertaken to investigate how bread has shaped the world. It’s a lot more interesting than you’d think!
For those who have never attended my previous shows they are not your typical stuffy artsy-fartsy affair where people in suits wax poetic over high art while sipping Shiraz. It will actually be fun. (And hopefully thought provoking and interesting.) There will be art, music, a variety of breads, intriguing cocktails and other festive libations to consume.
And of course really really cool & creative people like you who support the arts. Look forward to seeing you there.
Photoshop Law takes effect in Israel. What do you think?
Interesting. Without the 18.5% BMI clause this would have probably led to more models starving themselves since photoshopping their bodies would have to be made public knowledge.
Questions remain however. Except in the case of portraiture, I photoshop the crap out of everyone because well, we ALL need a little work. I’ve seen and retouched literally thousands of pimples and wrinkles. Would a photographer in Israel have to disclose that?
Photography is not always about projecting reality. Sometimes it’s my job to illustrate an idealized world. Just as it’s sometimes my job to project an overtly vulgar one. Projecting only the truth leaves us with a very narrow view of the world.
This law seems on the surface to be righteous. I just hope it doesn’t result in an assault on the imagination. Truth shouldn’t be elevated to some higher status. Abstractions and ideas that don’t exist in the real world shouldn’t be regulated or relegated to some sort of second class status. Die gedanken sind frei!
Since 2009 60 photographers in the lower mainland have gathered to participate in the 12x12 Vancouver photo Marathon. I was one of them in 2009 and 2010.
The rules are; Every marathoner receives a roll of film with 12 exposures at the beginning of the marathon. At the top of every hour a theme is announced. The themes are deliberately vague so that they remain open to a variety of interpretations. Some examples of past themes are “Secret World” “High Hope” “Trapped” and “Echo.” Each contestant has one frame of film in which to interpret each theme. And they must be photographed in the order that they are revealed. Think of it as a scavenger hunt for photo geeks.
The constraints (one hour to receive a theme, conceptualize it, interpret it & execute your idea in a single exposure) are a test of both mental gymnastics and physical endurance.
The reward? Well for one thing you just completed a marathon. Every image is exhibited at the annual 12x12 Marathon exhibit “Raw Talent.” The winning marathoners (each theme has a winner as well as overall winner, best shot and runners-up) receive their winning images printed on canvas and the grand prize winners receive large prints on aluminum. All of which are revealed at the 12x12 exhibit “Raw Talent.” The exhibit then travels to various sites in Vancouver including Vancouver Lookout.
What attracted me to the 12x12 Marathon was that I knew it would force me out of my comfort zone. I work as a commercial photographer. This means that I usually have the benefit of research, contemplation, planning, reflection, and most of all post production. Not to mention as many exposures as time will allow. The final vision an audience sees is a collaboration between the client, art directors, designers, photographer, models and other trades. In fact, in advertising the concept can be fully developed before the photographer even picks up their camera. The 12x12 Photo Marathon on the other hand is all about inspiration, observation, spontaneity and versatility. It asks the participant to accomplish everything a commercial shooter does in a month in one hour, and in one shot. And it’s a contest to boot.
The idea reminded me of the kind of assignments we would receive in art school. For instance, in Emily Carr’s foundation year the class was split into groups of 5 or 6 and given a Polaroid camera and pack of film. Each of us was instructed to take one Polaroid and hand it to the next classmate along with the camera. In return they were to photograph anything they wanted as long as it interpreted the previous image. At the end of class we posted the images side by side in order to observe how the original concept evolved. It was a fun exercise but it was also about training our minds to conceptualize, interpret and communicate abstract ideas and translate them into images.
I was looking forward to meeting the organizers of the 12x12 Marathon. Surely such a weird and fun exercise must be the brainchild of current or former art school instructors. Turns out I was wrong. The team http://vancouverphotomarathon.com/meet-the-12x12-crew/ is headed by Morten Rand-Hendrikson and his fiancé Angela Chi. They told me that the concept is popular in Europe and that the original marathon was held in Denmark. I felt an immediate kinship with this group. Anyone who selflessly champions the arts and can pull together something as logistically complicated as this event out of love for my craft is bordering on heroic in my book.
After participating in 2009 and again in 2010 I was disappointed that I would be unable to participate in 2011. I was happy for the team that it sold out in a matter of minutes. I want to see ideas like this flourish. Vancouver needs more of these events that foster creativity and promote our craft. Although I was unable to participate I still wanted to lend my support in some way. I offered to help organize or hang the exhibit but Morton declined. I offered to help organize. Again Morton declined. Then I received an e-mail from Angela asking me to be a judge. And to keep it super secret.
This year the 12x12 team changed the judging process. When the 3 judges names were revealed along with a some vague reference to a “secret judge” my name was absent. Maybe they forgot that they had asked me. Maybe they fired me.
I met the crew and some participants for brunch downtown before marathon day. Once we were out of earshot of any contestants Morten and Angela revealed to me the judging procedures. They explained that the mystery judge was also what they call a “Super Judge” and I was it.
They explained that, in order to maintain the integrity of the process and curb lobbying my identity was to remain a secret from the other judges. Smart, since I knew one of them personally. Basically my role was to judge the images nominated by the other judges. And the judges forms were to be handed in to me anonymously. This also made my job considerably easier than theirs. The other judges had to wade through 12 images x 60 marathoners =720 images. I only had to choose 16 winners from 90 nominated images. Easy-peasy right?
Not quite. I started with the best series nominations. Three series by three different photographers were nominated. One from each judge. The problem for me was that all three deserved to win for different reasons. to further complicate things, the “best series runner-up” candidates could all have easily won for best series.
Not surprisingly a pattern started to emerge. I noticed that the three judges each favored a different aspect of the picture making process. The nominations from Judge no.1 tended to be very strong conceptually. The nominations from judge no.2 tended to be pictorial and beautifully crafted. And the nominations from judge no.3 tended to be content driven with an emphasis on storytelling, humour and human nature.
It occurred to me that we were collectively trying to define: What makes an image great.
If you can accomplish all three of these elements (concept, aesthetic, and substance) in a single frame you have a winning picture any day. So I began choosing images that I thought best represented all three traits. In other words if it told a great story, it also needed to be strong conceptually as well as aesthetically.
When stumped I used other elements as a tie breaker. Ideas such as technical complexity -did the marathoner challenge him/herself? Sensitivity -was the marathoner particularly observant? And art direction -how well did the marathoner conceive of and set-up the shot? All of these I feel are skills that photographers should be expected to use at one time or another.
Here are the winners and some brief notes I jotted down for each. Congratulations to all the participants:
BEST SERIES: All the candidates deserved to win. Pretty agonizing decision but ultimately adding the element of the apple not only elevated the series & gave it some cohesion but added an extra set of challenges. Clever without being gimicky.
BEST SERIES RUNNER-UP: Even though it’s called runner-up it would have received nomination for best series from me. Loved it. Gutsy. Added an extra layer of technical complexity and conceptual cohesion.
BEST PHOTO: Excellent art direction. Directing kids can be challenging. Effective because the kids appear natural. Great storytelling. Whimsical. Relates multiple emotions in a single frame.
BEST PHOTO RUNNER-UP: Conveys emotion without a face. Beautiful selective focus. Stylish & dramatic
THEME 01: (My Entry No. + Different Angle): Nuanced and quite. Beautiful. Nice contrast between organic and industrial setting. Nice texture.
THEME 02: (The Usual Suspects): A literal interpretation with a twist. Clever use of a somewhat obvious device.
THEME 03: (Human Nature): Love this shot. Reveals itself slowly and more complex than first appears. Like the documentary style that left me wondering if it was contrived or not. Both are good in my book. Catching this shot requires sensitivity while setting it up requires clever art direction.
THEME04: (Reliable): Well crafted image. Bold and effective.
THEME 05: (My Greatest Wish): Wow! Doing a double exposure is always a gamble. Clever use of scale and visual trickery. I love when photographers challenge the perception of photography as documentation.
THEME 06: (Odour): I wanted to see which image conveyed smell most effectively. Strong image. very ethereal.
THEME 07: (Echo): Beautiful interpretation. Great execution. Placing model in tunnel reinforces theme. Love the abstract interpretation.
THEME 08: (Trapped): Good strong visual imagery. Evocative and dark. Like the illustrative vibe and how it allows the viewer to fill in the story.
THEME 09: (Take it to the Grave): Not easy to execute in one shot. Appreciate risk takers. being a set up shot shows skill with conceptualizing and executing an idea. Excellent art direction.
THEME 10: (Second Chance): Topical. Would make a great editorial illustration. Content driven and optimistic. Evocative.
THEME 11: (Not For Sale): Could this be more clever? Whimsical, funny and sweet! Unanimous among all judges too! Nice example of how photography can remind us of our childhood and evoke memories. No brainer.
THEME 12: (Expectation): The dead pan expressions of these Lego figures adds to the comedy. Always a fun series expertly executed.
SO THE NEW YORK TIMES is receiving criticism for publishing a graphic photo (by Sam Gewitz) of the shooting at The Empire State Building. Graphic gun violence is common in movies and video games. Why the uproar this time? Is it simply because this was a real life?
Consider this; until recently combat/war footage was seldom censored. Robert Capa’s images from the Spanish Civil War and WWII remain some of the most important images ever documented. Graphic footage of the Vietnam War resulted in public outrage. Many historians believe that an informed and mobilized public expedited the end of that war.
Also keep in mind that many media experts criticized the footage of more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq for being too sanitized. “Whitewashed.” Would a more authentic depiction of the devastation in Baghdad have had an impact on that war? Would it have an impact on the public’s support for conflict in the future? Perhaps that’s the point.
Reality doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes it’s ugly. It afflicts you. But it can also persuade you. To assess new courses of action and advance. Do we need to confront it or do we look the other way? Can you accuse the NYT of sensationalism? Is the public incapable of processing such images? Have editors lost their nerve? Are there lessons to be learned from exposing the public to this awful footage? Does the public benefit?
If you were a photo editor what would you do?
Me? I would publish it without reservation. Whether or not an audience is sophisticated enough to respond appropriately may be a reflection of the media they’ve been exposed to in the past. So, as a photo editor I would have the opportunity to be part of the solution or part of the problem.
An image is only as provocative as the reaction it elicits. I think a public armed with as much information as possible, no matter how gruesome, will be better able to react in a productive way.
I posted a link to Gewitz’s image without a thumbnail. Only click it if you want to.
An update on my upcoming annual exhibit / cocktail party this year:
An update on my show this year:
Ever wonder who would win in a fight? In July Vancouver bartenders, baristas, hostesses, bar owners and brew masters are gonna box for charity. And I will be taking their portraits.
As you know I host an exhibit / cocktail party every year. This year I have decided to auction off these portraits and donate the proceeds to help re-build a new boxing gym for kids on the Downtown Eastside.
Some of the participating businesses include Boneta, Save On Meats, Revolver, Red Truck Brewing, L’Abattoir, Revel Room, Pourhouse, Bao Bei, Clough Club, Alibi Room, Cork & Finn, The Diamond, Keefer Bar…