Friday, December 12, 2014

Modern Portraiture, an Observation

I swear I've written this before, but I can't find it, so perhaps I have just thought it a lot.

Modern portraiture, of the LifeTouch/Senior Sessions/etc style, more or less by fiat, involves a lot of lighting. You have a key, a fill, a hair, something for the background, and probably a few more if you can afford them. The object of the exercise is to reveal all. Detail in the hair, the whole face lit, but with enough ratio for pleasant modeling, blah blah blah.

The point is that lots of gear and technique goes in to putting every physical detail of the person into the picture.

Then we suck that picture in to photoshop.

And we start erasing shit. Skin is smoothed, stray hairs are zapped. Sometimes the entire face is subtly reshaped.

Why on earth are we at such pains to put information in only to remove it in post? This is absurdity. We're doing it because we can. We can shovel lights all over the place, and then we can photoshop the crap out of the picture. It's busywork designed to make the photographer feel valued.

It certainly creates a look, to be fair. An ugly, fake, cookie-cutter look. A look that renders a pleasant picture that does not even pretend to reveal the sitter's personality, it only makes them "look good" in some sense.


(and no, just because she is smiling and holding a tennis racquet, her "true personality" is not being revealed. that is a lie we tell ourselves.)

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