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.