Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photographing Dwarfs

In photographing dwarfs, you don't get majesty and beauty. You get dwarfs. -Susan Sontag

I'm not using this quote to offend little people. I'm acquainted with some big people who once publicly offended some little people. My big people acquaintances quickly discovered that the offended little people included a few who work for the IRS. Needless to say, the people I'm acquainted with made public apologies to little people in general: Offended little people, employed by the IRS little people, and little people in general.

Recently, on one of the glamour photography forums I frequent, a member commented about photographers routinely critiquing the relative beauty and allure of models. (Rather than focusing on the craft of photography in those criticisms.) Although, in a perfectly PC world, constructive criticisms of photographic images would and should focus more on craft and less on perceived beauty of the model, this ain't a perfectly PC world.

I'm confident there are dwarfs, I mean little people, who project beauty and majesty, certainly in the eyes of other little people as well as others. I'm also sure there are some incredibly well-crafted images of little people out there. But many people's perceptions of beauty--mostly perceptions by people who are not little people, that is--do not, for the most part, include the physical and visual characteristics of dwarfs little people. The same holds true for beauty and glamour models. If you seek more positive responses from viewers regarding your work as a pretty girl shooter, you'd do well to photograph models who stereotypically fit most people's perceptions of beauty. Simply put, the hotter the model the more wowed people will be by your photographs of them. Leastwise, it mostly works that way.

I know this sounds like I'm saying beauty trumps craft when it comes to pretty girl shooting. (I suppose I am saying exactly that.) If you really want to wow people with your work, shoot the hottest possible models and do so in a way that exhibits the best you're able to accomplish when it comes to the craft of glamour and tease photography. You'll probably find that less-crafty images of truly beautiful and sexy models will be applauded more enthusiastically than very crafty images of plane-Jane models.

It might not be fair but it's the way things are. We don't, after all, live in a perfect world.

The pretty girl at the top is Rebecca.


Anonymous said...

Rebecca looks pretty short...

But seriously, isn't a beautiful photo of someone that's not stereotypically beautiful much more interesting?

Or is that just me?

jimmyd said...

But seriously, isn't a beautiful photo of someone that's not stereotypically beautiful much more interesting?

Or is that just me?

No, it's just not you. But I was writing about glamour, tease, and beauty photography. In those genres, the hotter the model the more enthusiastic the responses. More often than not, that's been my observation.

WillT said...

Blunt, but right on.

But it's a mindset I can't afford. I'm a boudoir photographer whose clients want images that "wow" them and their lovers, not viewers of photography message boards and the general public.

Different audience, different requirements (if interested, there's an article on my blog about this).