Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's How We Roll

photography, photographer, glamour, glamor, modeling, models, camera, lensFew other themes in the history of art are as often depicted as the nude, female, form. In fact, some of humankind's very first, artistic, endeavors utilized this theme.

A carved limestone figure, the Venus of Willendorf, discovered in 1908, is one of the oldest representations of a female, figure study. And wouldn't ya know it? She's naked!

The figure's age has been dated to somewhere between 24,000 and 22,000 B.C. (That pre-dates the building of the pyramids by about 20,000 or more years!)

Back then, most people on the planet were nomadic, hunter gatherers. Archaeologists and others who study this sort of stuff generally agree the figure is not meant to be an accurate depiction of a woman. Rather, it is thought to be an idealized representation-- most likely, fertility-related. In spite of the figure's corpulent shape, early humankind's nomadic lifestyles and limited diets meant that obesity probably wasn't a big problem amongst our early ancestors.

Things haven't changed much in the past 22 or so millennia: Most photographers who point their cameras at the nude or semi-nude female form still attempt to capture their subjects in idealized and stylized ways. I guess, even back then, many artists found reality a bore, at least when it came to imagery of naked women. It kind of makes me proud, though, to be a practicing craftsman of one of humankind's oldest artistic endeavors. (Not to be confused with humankind's oldest profession.)

As most of you probably know, or should know, fertility and sex are closely aligned subjects. I suppose it's no wonder so many images of women, dressed and undressed, include sex-appeal as it's underlying theme-- sometimes with subtlety and sometimes without. Oh well! As pretty girl shooters, it's how we roll. Thousands and thousands of years of social evolution hasn't much changed our most basic and primal inclinations when capturing the allure and magic of the females of our species, whether on canvas, in sculpture, or through photography. Those who believe creating or capturing artistic, idealized, or stylized images of the nude, female, form is inherently undignified or perverse simply don't understand that we, as artists and craftsmen, are just going with the flow: A flow that started when our most ancient ancestors first began reflecting their world around them in artistic, interpretive, and creative ways.

I often wish I was Mr. Peabody's pet/boy, Sherman, so I could accompany the intrepid, canine-Einstein, via his WABAC machine (pronounced "way back"), through the ages. (Any other Rocky and Bullwinkle fans out there?) Anyway, I'd certainly want to visit artists throughout history, beginning with the earliest of them, to learn and, hopefully, understand (and bring back and share) the wisdom of their artistic craftsmanship. I should also note that, in addition to photography, history and archeology are my next favorite subjects. A trip in the WABAC machine would fulfill some of my wildest fantasies... No! Not those kinds of fantasies! (Well, maybe a few of them... excluding Ms. Venus of Willendorf. She ain't exactly my type.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ferocious Art

photography, photographer, glamour, glamor, model, modeling, camera, lensHere's another example of a graphic designer's work--working from images I captured--I'm quite satisfied with.

I wish I could always say I like what someone else does with my pics, I can't, but there are those times when I do like what they've done and this ad (for an upcoming adult release from TeraVision and Vivid Entertainment) works for me.

Apparently, both the client and the graphic designer have an eye similar to mine: They selected an image that is one of my faves from the series I shot with Jayme. If you scroll down to two updates ago, to my article, Gimme Some Attitude, you'll see that I featured the same image in my update they used as the primary photo for the artwork.

Some of you might find it interesting to see what can result from images shot on a seamless. You might also note, if you compate the image I posted in the Gimme Some Attitude! with the finished artwork, that Jayme's left nipple has been subtly covered up.

The Ferocious artwork is for an upcoming advertisement that will appear in AVN magazine (Adult Video News) and elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Are All the Hot Girls in SoCal?

photography, photographer, glamour, glamor, model, modeling, camera, lensI recently received the following email from a PGS reader:

Hey Jimmy!

You get to shoot some very glamorous, very beautiful women on a regular basis. How much of that is their beauty and how much is your skill?

Out here in Xxxxxx, let's just say that models are more challenged in the beauty department than what you're used to working with. If you were in my city, what would you do to make them look like SoCal babes?

All the best,

PS PLEASE don't quote the part that says Xxxxxx models are challenged! I'd have to move to shoot again, its a small town!


FWIW, here's my take on this:

It's true that places like L.A., New York, Miami, and others are magnets for hot chicks looking to parlay their beauty and charms into green. But all these would-be, wanna-be, hope-to-be models come from somewhere. And they didn't all accidentally fall off a turnip cart on the streets of L.A., New York, Miami, or other places where there's plenty more modeling work than where they might hail from. So, I don't think it's geographic anomalies or accidental arrivals that seem to place hotter chicks in one location over another.

That aside, there are plenty of other factors that might make it seem as if most of the best looking women are working the entertainment and media centers around the U.S. And thinking it has everything to do with a shooter's skills, mine or anyone else's, is a simplification.

First, many of the pretty girls I shoot with have experience in front of a camera-- Not all of them, but quite a few. And more than a few have lots of experience. A model's skills are a big part of capturing her beauty and allure. Simply said, successful, experienced models know how to sell it.

Just last week, I had a conversation with Lisa Boyle, a successful glamour model who took up shooting a few years back. Lisa's modeling experience includes more than a few appearances in Playboy magazine--the cover as well as inside the mag--Playboy's various Special Editions, and elsewhere. Lisa and I were both on the same set shooting for the same client. (They needed two shooters for this project due to time constraints.) Both Lisa and I have shot Tera Patrick a number of times and Tera's name came up in our conversation. We both agreed that it's pretty hard to shoot a bad pic of Tera. Why? Because Tera is not only beautiful, she's masterful in front of the camera. Tera knows how to sell it like few others!

Next is The Team. I'm talking about those people who apply make-up, style hair, dress the model, and contribute in other ways to the images. These people make a huge contribution to the outcome of a shoot! HUGE!

Unfortunately, many hometown girls are being shot by quite good shooters but without the benefits of The Team. When you're shooting glamour, the elements of glamour photography don't end with a pretty girl and a good shooter. (i.e., a hot model and a shooter who simply knows his or her way around lights and a camera.) To get the goods, the best goods, you need a team of glamour and beauty creatives who know what they're doing. In fact, often I think the least important person in the equation is the shooter. If you have a beautiful, experienced model who really knows how to sell it, hook her up with The Team (which could be just one person or more than one) performing their magic on said model, and the shooter has good, basic skills, the results are often going to be successful.

Although many shooters might disagree, here's how I figure the equation works, in percentages, contributing to the success of most glamour images: 50% the model, 30% the MUA and others on The Team, 20% the shooter. Of course, the shooter often gets the lion's share of the credit for the images and, while that might not seem fair, that's the way, right or wrong, it works (for the most part)in the pretty girl shooting biz.

So dude! Don't sell those hometown girls short. Without them, the seemingly never-ending supply of hotties who end up in front of my camera might suddenly evaporate. Make the most of them before they head for other pastures. And remember, it's not just about beauty. Often, models are simply missing the skills and experience to sell themselves to the camera or they don't always get to enjoy the benefits of The Team. If and when those elements are brought to bear on most pretty girl images, the apparent skills of the shooter, in other peoples' eyes, increases dramatically.

The pretty girl at the top is the Goddess of Glam herself, Tera Patrick. MUA & Hair by Jennifer Corona. This was from a rather brief and impromptu shoot a few months back. I lit Tera with two lights: 33.5" Mola beauty dish for the main and a small umbrella overheard for some highlights. Tera is wearing a piece from her signature, lingerie line, Mistress Couture.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gimme Some Attitude!

photography, photographer, glamour, glamor, model, modeling, camera, lensI love models who project attitudes, especially those bad girl attitudes. When I'm shooting hot chicks, a generous helping of bad girl goes a long way with me!

That's not to say the BG persona is all I want from the model. I want more. I want a range of attitudes and emotions. But I'll admit, my favorite is the bad girl thing, with sneers and snarls and sexy, in-your-face, unabashed, expressions and body language.

Some models instinctively go that way: They understand that beauty is not enough. To stand out, they have to sell themselves and one way big way to accomplish selling themselves is with some not-so-subtle attitudes and emotions. Admittedly, a lot of these pics end up in the cyber-round file for one reason or another. But quite often, one or more of them really stands out; leastwise, in my mind they do.

I recently shot with Jayme. She's the eye-candy accompanying this post. One of the first things Jayme did was snarl. I wasn't sure I liked it but I kept my mouth shut and my finger snapping the shutter. Later, the client was perusing the pics and he said, "Dude! Those snarling pics..."

photography, photographer, glamour, glamor, model, modeling, camera, lensI was about to make some lame excuse when he interrupted my stutter.

"I love 'em! You d'man!"

"Uhhh... Thanks," I said.


Sometimes, we should simply go with the flow. And the model pretty much is that flow! It's easy to assume we, as shooters, know best regarding what looks best. After all, we're the ones peering into the viewfinders. On forums, I often see discussions regarding how to encourage models to sell themselves with attitudes and emotions but few regarding models who accomplish it all on their own. When that happens, when a model goes for it all on her own and with little urging, it might not be a bad idea to let them go for it--even if we're unsure of whether it works or not--before making instant judgments about the artistic and emotional impact she's having on the images. (Besides, if you're shooting digital, it's not like you're incurring extra costs for film and processing.)

You never know-- The images you end up with might be very cool. More importantly, your client might think they're very cool and, when that happens, it is completely cool.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Missed Annivesary

When I was married, I was a habitual forgetter: I'd forget wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and most other dates that, it seems to me, are usually far more important to women than to men. (Leastwise, this man.) My habitual case of forgetter syndrome might, to some extent, explain why I'm no longer married. At the very least, it probably contributed to the relationship's demise.

"Obviously, the things that are important to me aren't that important to you," my ex-wife would often say. Actually, when she felt compelled to voice those sentiments, she didn't say it quite that nicely. She also made that observation to explain many things about me that sorely and continually annoyed her.

All that aside, I've just realized I forgot about the first anniversary of this blog. (Missed it by two weeks.) Not that it's an important or memorable date to remember (like certain anniversaries and such) but, for anyone who keeps track of these things, the first anniversary of my Pretty Girl Shooter blog came and went on July 4th.

Wow! It's been over a year since I started writing this blog! I'm rather self-impressed that I've exhibited such, uhhh... perseverance.

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I took a look at my first PGS blog entry. I suppose I thought a small reminder of why I began writing this thing wouldn't hurt. For those of you who are partial to trivial and unimportant stats, I've posted 248 updates (not counting this one) since I began authoring this blog.

In my initial entry, I attempted to communicate my reasons for embarking on this blog-writing journey: Having too much excess time on my hands was my #1 listed reason for doing this. What that really meant was this: Since, as many people do, I had some extra time on my hands, and since I'm not much of a TV-addicted, couch potato, plus I was already and routinely spending a fair amount of my excess time commenting on various photography forums, it seemed to make more sense to write what I had to say about photography on something more personal, more mine, than a public or membership forum.

In the back of my head, I've kept at this blog thinking I could do something with my writing. I've thought the start of a book on glamour photography, the basis for some articles for photo magazines, or something else could lie hidden within the confines of this blog. To date, none of that has happened. I haven't tried to assemble my many blog entries into something cohesive that might provide the beginnings of a book. I've yet to submit anything, not even a query letter, to magazines. But I'm still hopeful something will evolve out of this. That's why I'll keep updating about the craft of pretty girl shooting and keep thinking that something--other than the personal satisfaction and enjoyment I derive from writing about this stuff--will eventually reveal itself.

BTW, it wasn't until my sixth blog entry, Studio Glamour Lighting 101, that I posted an image. FWIW, the pic below is the first image I posted to the Pretty Girl Shooter blog. It's a behind-the-scenes, instructionally-intended, shot of model Nikita Lea. Nikki has been featured in more than a few pretty girl magazines and websites.

glamour, photography, photographer, models, modeling,  glamor

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Are Pics of Porn Adult Film Stars Relevant?

glamour, photography, photographer, models, modeling, glamorMany of the models' pics I post on this blog are adult film stars. Shooting these, uhh... (professionally) sexually-liberated women comprises a big chunk of my work. Hey! Someone's gotta do it, right? And trust me, contrary to what many might think, it is work.

Besides the obvious, what sells (traditional, non-internet) porn? What makes consumers spend their disposable income on one smut product over another?

I'll tell you what sells porn: The artwork wrapped around the DVD, i.e., the packaging.

When manufacturers of adult films submit their products to regional distributors (who then sell them to retailers) those buyers rarely, if ever, pop DVDs into a DVD player and watch the movies. (Neither do the retailers.) For the most part, buyers don't watch screeners. In fact, except for a few distributors' requirements, screeners aren't even submitted. Instead, buyers look at the packaging, the artwork, and make their buying decisions based on that. Sure, other factors come into play: The popularity of the "stars" featured in the video and on the boxcover, an adult company's brand and reputation, how much juice the salesperson has with the buyer. But, in most cases, how many units a buyer takes, if any, rides on the artwork.

glamour, photography, photographer, models, modeling, glamorThese days, with hundreds of new, adult DVDs being released weekly, it's that much harder to make one's product stand out in a crowded marketplace. That's why quality packaging is the hallmark of some of the industry's most successful players, e.g., Vivid, LFP/Hustler, Wicked Pictures, Playboy/Club Jenna, Digital Playground. Penthouse has recently jumped into the fray and I guarantee this: As long-time purveyors of pretty girl imagery, Penthouse is paying close attention to the quality of their packaging, from the photography to the final, graphic design.

Two people are largely responsible for the creation of that artwork: The photographer and the graphic designer. With some manufacturers, more attention is paid to the creation of the artwork than the quality of the product it hopes to sell. That's why so many adult DVDs can be characterized as shit poorly-produced content wrapped in a pretty package.

Yep, often it's the photographer's and graphic designer's job to frost the turd.

glamour, photography, photographer, models, modeling, glamorIn my opinion, the adult industry, which also includes magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and more, drives contemporary glamour photography in a big BIG way. That's why I believe, from a purely photographic perspective, pics of adult stars are relevant to any discussion of contemporary glamour shooting, whether the model is revealed in all her naked glory or a bit of restraint is employed. (Think Maxim, FHM, and others.) I also believe this genre extends its style impact, in varying degrees, to fashion photography, celebrity shooting, and pop culture imagery in general.

Relevant? Call me crazy but yeah. Hell yeah!

The pretty girl accompanying this post is Alexis. I captured these images, in a studio, at a recent adult shoot. I don't know if any of the images from this series will be featured on the DVD's cover art-- Alexis wasn't the main "star" of the video. But I'm sure some of them will show up in mags or as web content somewhere on the planet.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Future of dMF

glamour, photography, photographer, models, modeling, glamorI'm a Canon guy. Before digital and since the 1970s, my camera bodies have been Canon. Soon after higher-end and reasonably-priced digital, SLRs arrived, I purchased a Canon 10D, then a 20D, and then a 5D.

The more I think about this 35mm dSLR vs. dMF thing, the more I think it might be worth my time to wait-out whatever Canon's product development plans are for their next generation, small-format, dSLR, and see who comes out with a somewhat affordable dMF SLR... I'm guessing it won't be Canon.

Pentax has plans to release their Pentax 645 Digital MF SLR. And, of course, there's Mamiya's 645AFD II with digital back and an 80mm f/2.8 AF lens. Mamiya's system is in the $10K range... no word on pricing for the Pentax. In the next year or two, who knows who's going to come out with what in the digital MF market and at what price? I'll bet the price of sensors, even large sensors for MF systems, are eventually going to come down substantially in cost.

An (assumed) decline in the cost of sensors brings up another possibility: Perhaps it makes sense to purchase an MF film system--one that is compatible with digital backs--and wait and see (i.e., hope to see) if the price of some of those digital backs declines substantially? I've looked at used previously owned MF cameras on eBay and it seems some pretty decent MF gear can be had for a good price. Plus, while waiting for that elusive, affordable, digital back to appear in the marketplace, I could be shooting some of my stuff MF, with film, and scan the results. A pretty damn good film scanner can be had for $1K to $2K. As PGS reader, James, commented in yesterday's post about dMFs, "This is one of those cases where film actually makes sense. It has the range of a dMF or greater (depending on the film) and it's worlds cheaper to buy a decent MF system and a film scanner. It's about $1-2k as apposed to $$15-40k. Sure film and processing will be a recurring cost, but $13k buys a lot of that!"

Decisions... decisions...

The gratuitous pretty girl at the top is Paola. This is one from a series with Paola I shot a month or so ago. Nice butt gluteus maximus on that girl!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

35mm dSLR vs. dMF

I often see many images that cause me to scratch my head and wonder, "Why doesn't my stuff look like that?"

Apparently, I've been overlooking the obvious: The images that I envy--envy for their rich tones, impressive detail, and so much more--were shot with a medium format camera with a digital back!

D'oh! I could'a had a V-8!

I don't care how swift you are with lighting, how talented the MUA and stylist might be, what kind of art direction you throw at the image, or how beautiful and sexy the model is or how incredibly she "sells it," if you snap the same shot, once with a 35mm dSLR and again with a medium format camera with a digital back, the dMF image is going to trump the d35mm image. And it's going to trump it BIG-time!

It's this exact factor (that I've overlooked) that sent me studying HDR techniques. Somehow, in my brain-farting absentmindedness, I believed some mysterious post process was the secret ringer that so effectively trumped my images. I now know that simply ain't so.

I'm not saying everything I shoot lacks that certain something because I'm shooting small format. I freely admit there are many small format, dSLR photographers whose work trumps mine-- and it does so for many reasons, not the least of which is that those shooters are, quite simply, better than me. But when it comes to model photography, medium format rules.

A photographer from the Netherlands, Frank Doorhof, is an active member of the Photo Camel forum. Frank routinely posts terrific pretty girl images on that forum. Lately, I haven't been able to figure out why Frank's glamour photography has been so breathtakingly gorgeous even tho, like me, he often shoots his models against a simple seamless. Yesterday, in one of his updates, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before: Frank has been shooting his stuff with a Mamiya 645ZD, a medium format SLR with a 22mp digital back. If you think the full-frame sensor on a 1d or a 5d is the ultimate in sensors, think again: Those sensors are dwarfed by the sensors on the back of dMF cameras.

If I want to seriously upgrade my images, I guess I'll have to figure out how I can afford a medium format camera with a digital back. Unfortunately, I'm fairly sure that ain't gonna happen in the very near future. Oh well.

The gratuitous pretty girl at the top, shot on location a month or so ago with my Canon 5D dSLR, is Lela. This image of Lela certainly doesn't qualify as breathtaking photography. And there are many who could process this image much better than I'm capable of doing. It also doesn't feature the rich tones and incredible depth and detail associated with a dMF capture. But Lela is still quite easy to look at, no?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

HDR for Pretty Girl Shooting?

For the past few days, I've been reading quite a bit about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. For the most part, it seems HDR techniques are applied to landscape and cityscape photos. But I'm thinking HDR, or some of it's processes, might work for shooting models.

Most shooters going after that HDR look do so by snapping multiple exposures (bracketing with under and over exposure settings) and then, either with stand-alone software like PhotoMatrix or HDR tools available in the latest editions of Photoshop, apply tone mapping processes to increase the dynamic range of the images.

Another way to accomplish the HDR look is by shooting images in RAW and then converting multiple versions of the same image using + and - EV (exposure compensation) settings. This would seem to be the ideal method for applying HDR techniques to pretty girl shooting. Otherwise, you would need to have the model remain very still while you snapped multiple exposures.

I tried applying some of the HDR techniques I've recently learned to some pics I shot but I wasn't too happy with the results: They looked a bit garish. Oh well. Something to continue working on I suppose.

The pretty girl at the top is Brea. I shot Brea not too long ago and she was a real sweetheart to work with.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pucker Up and Gimme Some Love!

So no one thinks that I think this thing we do, i.e., this photography thing, is all about technical skills, I don't.

I don't.

I don't.

I don't.

What I think it's about is a whole lot of things.

While I don't feel qualified to speak about too many genres of photography, I do feel I can speak for glam and tease and erotic shooting with some small degree of experience and with a qualification or two. With that in mind, here's what I think this stuff is all about: It's about passion, it's about what you know and what you have yet to learn, it's about art and aesthetics, it's about gaining rapport, it's about communications, and yeah, it's about technical skills. And not necessarily in that order! (Although that order will do just fine. In fact, any order works because all of these things, and many more that aren't occurring to me right now, are equally important.)

If you subscribe to that left brain vs. right brain stuff, photography is an art (or a craft... whatever) that calls on your whole brain to accomplish excellent results. It's an art form that calls on science as much as it calls on creativity. One side of the brain working overtime while the other side hibernates does not, IMHO, produce outstanding photographic results. At least, for the most part it doesn't.

When I see work that seems mostly right-brain conceived and executed, with little or no regard for the technical stuff, I find that work somewhat deficient, leastwise in terms of it being a great photographic image. It might be a notable image, but not a notable PHOTOGRAPHIC image.

Personally, I've been shrink'd (shrunk?) more than a few times in my life. Each time, I've been told that I'm very right-brained, almost to the exclusion of the left side of my melon. That doesn't make me Mister Creative. It means I'm a big picture kind of guy. Details elude me. It also means I have to really focus and concentrate to achieve results that require left-brain thinking. You know, where much of that processing occurs that works well with the technical stuff. Example: Algebra? Fuhgedaboudit. Might as well be an extra-terrestrial language. Geometry? Maybe. It kind'a makes sense. That's probably why a technically near-perfect photograph really impresses me... at first, that is. But then, the right-side of my melon resumes its authority and decides the image, which at first impressed me with its technical prowess, sucks... or isn't all that. You know what I'm saying, right? Anyway, I guess I'm this way (that way?) because I'm quite impressed with people who can figure out how to do things that elude me until I take a closer look at the results, the BIG PICTURE results, and then I sometimes end up much less impressed than when I first considered whatever it was that impressed me to begin with. (I hope that made sense.)

People that excel at mechanical stuff, like fixing a car or building a nuclear reactor, usually impress the heck out of me... until I get to know them.

So, in a nutshell, here's where I'm coming from: For someone's work to really impress me, they need to show me that they've mastered most all the stuff that comes from each side of their brains in order to produce truly great results.

The pretty girl puckering up is Jamie. I shot her a month or so ago and, while doing so, I asked her to give me some love. And she did... well, maybe she wasn't really giving it to me, personally to me, but to the camera. But I can delude myself pretty well. (An often-seen trait of right-brain thinkers.) And if I want to believe that kiss was for me, it was for me. So there.

Great Comments!

This past Tuesday's and Thursday's posts, Who Lowered the Bar? and Everyday People, Everyday Photography? were both aimed at the same subject matter and both elicited quite a few responses in their respective "Comments" sections.

I'm not trying to turn this blog into a forum and I equally enjoy the comments whether they agree with my point-of-view of not. If you haven't read the comments for these posts, you might also find them quite interesting. This whole Art v. Technical Skills thing seems to stimulate a fair amount of thought amongst photographers.

Personally, and I mentioned this in one of my responses to a reader's comment, I don't think art and technical skills should be, somehow, oppositional or at odds with each other. I think the mark of great photography is when these two sets of abilities work harmoniously with each other, not at the exclusion of each other.

The pretty girl at the top is Veronica. I shot Veronica a few weeks ago and thought I'd get mildly artsy with it in post, going monochrome with the image and adding noise in an attempt (probably not very successful) to give a retro, girlie pulp-mag, feel to it... sort of like a print made from a frame from an old, 8mm, blue movie, loop.

Friday, July 06, 2007

An Odyssey and an Oracle

I posted a couple of new links today. (Hat tip to the good folks at

I don't gratuitously post links the way I gratuitously post photos of pretty girls. I only post links to sites that, for one reason or another, I find of interest.

There's more than a few reasons I might find a site of interest, not the least of which is it being informative and/or on-topic. Another reason might simply be that I like the photography featured on the site. Whatever the reason might be, I hope many of you find my choices for links worth browsing.

Today's new links, both of them blogs, come from South Africa. The blogs' author is a photographer and filmmaker and although his blogs are fairly new and he hasn't updated in about a month, I think an occasional visit to these sites will prove worth any photographer's time... assuming the author continues with what he's begun.

Here are the links:

A Photographers Odyssey

A Photographers Oracle

The gratuitious pretty girl at the top who, for some reason, has me humming that old song, "Thanks for the Mammaries," is Devin. I shot Devin a while back at a studio in the San Fernando Valley.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Everyday People, Everyday Photography?

Tuesday's post elicited a number of comments. One, in particular, caused me to actually use my melon to think about it's implications.

An anonymous commenter responded with: "people like him (Ryan McGinley) because his stuff captures a sorta realness and is a scene from his everyday life. not everyone loves the ultra shiny models surrounded by tons of lights in a studio look that magazines always shove down our throats. its good to see people like McGinley, Richardson, Kern, Boogie, Naz, Rikki Kasso etc.. doing something a little bit different. younger people are getting tired of the airbrushed look and want something more real, everyday life sorta stuff."

I decided to Google the photographers listed in the comment as I wasn't familiar with them. What I found interesting was that, while these photographers did attempt to reflect more of a real-life feel to their work, their levels of technical skill seemed all over the map. So now I'm wondering if subject and style trumps technical skills? Or, do technical skills only marginally matter these days? (i.e., amongst younger people as the commenter infers.) If this is true, than the digital revolution is certainly a boon to anyone who chooses not to take the time to learn the science and craft of photography but, rather, chooses to pursue photography relying, solely, on their artistic and creative aesthetics... thanks, primarily, to modern cameras' auto-modes and creative-modes and all that stuff.

Don't get me wrong-- I took no personal exception to the commenter's comments who, in the balance of his comment (which I did not quote) said some nice words about your humble photographer/scribe. Besides, it's a big world and there's certainly plenty of room for all kinds of photographic styles: From ultra-shiny studio pics to gritty realism. But whichever style a shooter chooses to pursue, I think that the photographer's technical skills (or lack of them) should be in the equation--whether you're an art critic, a fellow photographer, or simply someone looking at a picture--when making decisions about the relative "greatness" of the shooter. When I view images that contain a realistic approach, I'm still looking to see if the photographer seems to grasp the science of photography, as well as the art of the craft. IMO, one without the other does not a photographer make.

Today's gratuitous eye-candy is Jenna. Not really an ultra-shiny studio pic but not exactly gritty realism either. Simply, a hot, semi-naked chick who possesses, amongst other attributes, a particularly photogenic derrière.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Who Lowered the Bar?

In the spirit of my last update, "The Decline of Fashion Photography," please allow me to direct your attention to Ryan McGinley, a young photographer riding the crest of a hype-wave.

If you've got a few moments, you might click on this article. After reading all about Mr. McGinley and checking out his work--work that earned him, amongst many other things, the International Center of Photography's Young Photographer of the Year award--ask yourself if you believe the bar has been lowered? I mean seriously lowered.

It's not that I think young Master Ryan's work sucks, I don't, I just don't see what drives the hype? Oh well. Sometimes, I suppose, it's who ya know and who ya bl... uhh, never mind that last comment. Some things just are what they are and I'm not going to dwell on them. Besides, I'm already in a pissy mood because AT&T (formerly Cingular Wireless)SUCKS!!!!!

Anyway, decide for yourself. Once again, here's the Ryan McGinley link.

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top with the (oh so cliche) finger-in-the-mouth thing going on and who has nothing whatsoever to do with this update is Paola. Paola's from Ipanema Beach, Brazil... but I shot her, about a month ago, in a studio in Koreatown, near downtown L.A.