There’s something really wrong.

For this last while now I’ve viewed portraiture photos on professional and semi pro sites. One of the best sites 500px simply calls the section ‘people’.
In an odd way the lighting of people’s faces and form generally helps when seeing landscapes.
What I’ve noticed, and I say noticed rather than discovered, is that 90% of portrait photographs are of women.  And of that number, if one out of ten photographers shoots with a kind eye I’m being generous. Further, it seems the split between male and female is about 50/50 for the photographers and still it makes no difference to the resulting images. I thought women would photograph their own form with a different eye. Oh, by ‘kind eye’ I mean to shoot to bring out the beauty of the woman and therefore create a beautiful image, not the beauty of the image in and of itself, where the woman is part of the composition, only, not it’s subject.
In general for adults it is far better they don’t photograph full to the camera. Those Japanese street fashions are the only ones that can get away with the square to the lense stance. But none above five foot can. It is simply a question of proportions. And how often do you see that full on, a toe turned in, with a chick built to breed farmers for Germany/Norway/UK and Ireland. They just look idiotic.
And how many photographers will forget about hands. They will have a lovely model and covert her hands into man hands. Shooting an ample busted chick looking over her shoulder thereby making certain her knockers are the focus not her eyes.
However, none of these are as outright weird as the contortionists poses. You know the people who have had ballet training, and I’m not talking about the girls putting one leg vertically above the other, no, those girls know how their form is on viewed and will display to it’s best. The key give-away is the tilt of the head and that elongation of the neck. It’s a minuscule difference on a measuring tape, but it changes the proportions. We see the head from the clavicle up and the body from the clavicle to crotch and leg from there, down. No, these are ‘untrained’ who are asked to arrange themselves into the oddest and in some cases torturous positions, and for why. I’ve no idea.

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8 Responses to There’s something really wrong.

  1. Kimberly says:

    Ya know I don’t tend to look at portraits much or critically because I prefer landscapes or still lifes or is it lives (for lack of a better term) to photos of people. So I can’t comment too much. I think photographing people is hard and I can appreciate the work. I’ve never had the interest because the ones I would shoot never turned out.
    Are you gearing up/researching for photographing people? I know you were contemplating that awhile back.

    • V.H says:

      No, not really. It’s simply that it is an large aspect of photography and ‘not’ knowing would leave a huge gap.

      What I was trying to get at, and not well, is that you can photograph a person and have the poetry of that person reflected in the image. Look at these Every one is brilliant as Art and humanity. They draw you in to the story of the person. But most of what you see today you simply don’t care.
      If I was better at analysing I’d be clearer I suspect. But (a) it seems the methods used in fashion photography of the last 20 years has widened to places it never was before. Where the subject isn’t the person but the garment. And (b) where a story is told in dance and the photographer freezes the movement of a jump or a floor move. When this is brought to the studio and a non dancer is asked to flex and contort, well the tensions are in the wrong place. It is simply racking someone.

      • Kimberly says:

        I think those photos you linked to are amazing! But they all seem like real people don’t they. You weren’t being unclear, I was just refraining from the following :)… I suspect part of the problem you are seeing in these images is this…
        We aren’t even looking at real people anymore. Instead an image that a beauty industry tells us is beautiful. Most of what we look at isn’t even possible in a human being but in photoshop they can remove ribs, wittle hips, lengthen necks by inches, add abs, etc. It’s creating a warped sense of what beauty is…and isn’t. Over the last few weeks there’s been a lot of coverage of that Australian model who is bigger than the “typical” model and has gotten all sorts of flack by the industry because she, gasp, doesn’t have “thigh gap”. While the coverage has been about how appalling it is because she looks amazing even though she’s not a stick, people still have the gall to comment and write articles about how she is fat.
        So back to your point, I think this warped sense of how people should look (women more than men, but for everyone really) is making the images odd and unrealistic. While photos like the one in your link celebrate everyone, the ones we are inundated with on a daily basis do not.

        • V.H says:

          Yes that is pretty near what I’m seeing. But this ‘avatar’, almost a Cubism of the human image, is being done without the aid of Photoshop too. And this where little attempt is being made to humanist the person in the shot. Which for the most part the desktop publishing attempts.

          Yeah, the emaciated zero size chick comes up every year about the time of the fashion week shows. It seems Turin is the main culprit picking east European kids. But the rest of them coming out all holier that thou gets a bit sickening too.

  2. sage says:

    You have spent some time pondering this! The photos that I best like of people are “environmental photos” where the subject isn’t just the person but the environment in which they work, live, etc.

    • V.H says:

      Yes, a bit. But in that way when you are viewing a photograph with a frown wonder why they would do this or that. They feel unsympathetic, as if the photographer at a visceral level doesn’t like the subject. That link to Cartier Bresson shows photos that ooze his love of his subjects. And you can see the same with Ansel Adams. It’s just there. And I hope it comes through in mine too.
      It seems a bit like a painter who dislikes paint or a sculptor who hates stone where both will work the medium for the resulting Art.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m not particularly interested in portrait photography. Looking at the “people” section you linked to, I find many of the women look awkward or abnormal. If there are going to be people in a photograph, I’d rather it be like those found in publications such as National Geographic, where it’s part of the “story” – or even the story itself.

    • V.H says:

      I very rarely have people in my photos. In fact I’m a bit annoyed unless they are well out and are unrecognisable.
      And yes the NG is truly good, and the older ones are better than the newer.

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