Thursday, March 15, 2012
With change comes controversy
A young, aspiring model contacted me and asked me to help with her portfolio. Turns out she's enthusiastic as all get out, raring to go and loves to try new things. I've had a few model contacts so far and nothing has panned out, so my portfolio is limited to some photojournalistic work, a couple weddings, some portraiture and a whole lot of art, nature and wildlife photography primarily.
So I met Allie at a cafe and brought my camera, took a few impromptu headshots and we had a little conversation and a day later we did a very rudimentary shoot in the park. The light was terrible, it was windy and a little chilly and sunny at the same time. No foliage to provide deep shade, no assistant, but Allie was such a trooper she just carried the day, never complained once even though unbeknownst to me she wasn't feeling well. I was pretty impressed with her ability to "vogue it up" working with the environment, the bad light, and any props handy including and old dead log with grafitti on it ( most of which I have now removed in post production ).
So anyway the shot above ended up being one of two of her favorite shots of the day. She called it, "perfect". As a photographer I can't ask for more than that. Allie had told me that her tastes run towards the edgy and dramatic, so it didn't surprise me that she'd pick two images where she wasn't smiling. She smiles a lot, like, all the time, but she knows when the camera is turned on her she needs to mix it up a bit.
I posted the photo on my facebook page, with the comment that the subject doesn't always choose the same favorite images as the photographer in every case, and I was actually referring to another shot which I never did post because I like this one all right. I don't think it's "perfect" but I like it all right.
Then the shit hit the fan. Somebody didn't just dislike the photo, they seemed to in some way, hate it. I was so surprised that i asked them to clarify, and that was my first mistake. I don't really want to go into it all, because it was really just a few people making negative comments, but then it expanded into what appeared to be a feminist based rant or two, and I could see it was going to snowball. Even really well meaning people were now speculating about the model based on a single image.
I've seen this happen before on the internet, they call it a "dogpile" and it can go positive or it can go negative. What I think this was turning into was a lot of really good people trying to work out their "stuff" on a single image. As an image then, it's a success. You might want an image to get noticed, get under your skin even, disturb you somehow. Not every image should be entirely palatable.
But the comments were starting to piss me off because I know that an image is just an image and yet there are real people behind it, like, in this case, a young college student just trying her hand at modeling. I know what a trooper she was for this shot, that she brought her own clothes, changed them in the chilly wind, did her best to work with what she had and did a truly admirable job, far exceeding my expectations for the day. I don't want to hear that you don't like her shoes. If you're so concerned about that, I'll send you and invoice for two hundred fifty bucks and you can handle the shoe fund. Don't tell me that you think she's "in pain" just because she decided to shoot an intense look at the camera for this one image. Literally 3 seconds later she was grinning, just like she was for most of the day. I don't even want to hear about the pose being unnatural because to me all poses are unnatural, and I especially don't want to hear how concerned you are for her well being while directly engaging in gossip gossip gossip. Not so bad at modeling the first time out is she? Modeling is acting, and she fooled the hell out of some people. Further she zoned in on the one image out of about 200 that was going to mess with people big time. Mess with them. And honestly, this is a young woman kicking back on a log, fully clothed. My hat is off to Allie. She rocked the house.