Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just for scuz

I've been browsing the sites of professional photographers again and contemplating re-upping my subscription to The Zoloft Times, so envious I am of all the cherubic faces in all their creamy beauty, dressed nattily in designer duds.

How effortless it seems. Multi-frame storyboards of children gallivanting in fields, hands joined, rubber boots kicking gleefully. Every shadowless exposure a marvel of continuity. I know the prices the boutique shooters are charging, and I know that even THEY can't afford themselves.

Perhaps what I'm experiencing is a little bit of sour grapes of the "I-really-can't-do- what-they-do" vintage. I know the tricks. I know how to adjust the "curves" until the texture of the skin is washed clean. I know to sharpen the irises and clean up the sclera so no shadows or pronounced blood vessels smear the windows of the subjects' tiny souls. Matchy-matchy clothes, cute props natural settings all add to the ambiance.

But as I once railed against the "Sears Portrait," the face-front studio disaster I ridiculed in art school, I am now finding myself weary of all the pint-sized perfection the boutique shooters are peddling. The very same images I once admired for their simple beauty and stunning sharpness, and even tried to emulate, are beginning to look alike to me in an eerie formulaic way.

You know, because kids with smeared faces, matted hair and mismatched, ill-fitting clothes -- how they look 95 percent of the time anyway -- just aren't good enough for display. We'd much rather enshrine the myth of well-scrubbed perfection, especially if we're paying through the nose for it.


Andrea said...

There's so much more to photography than clean, porcelain skin and chic clothes. There's the feeling invoked when someone sees the picture for the first time. There's the details that are only in that exact place at that exact point in time when the shutter clicked. There's the eye of the person behind the camera.

I'll take your perspective, your moments of beauty over any sanitized window shopping fotog anyday.

I love how you can see a hint of you taking the picture in the reflection of Annabel's eyes. You don't have what they all have. You have better.

diana said...

My not so secret secret (Joel hears about it often) is that you are my favorite on flickr because your photographs are real moments of real children and no one else does it quite like you. Children aren't supposed to be polished and perfect, that's the whole point of being a kid. There's plenty of time to try and achieve that imagined ideal of perfection years down the road.

Firestarter5 said...

These magazines can post all the little perfect children in perfect settings as much as they want.

Annabel kicks them to the curb everytime by being herself!

wordgirl said...

Got your Christmas card today. It was gorgeous!

Gail said...

I'm not a fan of the studio portrait, and when children are so obviously posed, sometimes it gives me the creeps...

But I've been told that my five little nieces and nephew get their portraits taken at a studio because it's 1) cheap and 2) their grandparents (in Maine) want studio portraits. Oh well.

Melissa R. Garrett said...

NO NO!! I would take your pictures over another's any day! You capture moments as they are. You are real. So don't doubt that.

I can't take a picture worth a flip, but I do know what I like. And I like your work as it is.