Posts tagged “Criticism

The future will have you seeing RED.

Depending on who you ask, this is the future of photography.

The EPIC M, by RED, comes in a package one third the size of a RED ONE, carrying with it a 5K Mysterium-X™ sensor and a 27 layer ASIC, the most advanced processor of its type in the world, enabling EPIC to capture up to 120 frames per second, each frame at full 14MP resolution. EPIC both a Digital Still & Motion Camera, and that is what could be what changes everything…again.

Photography, over the years, has gone through a recent evolution. With digital becoming the standard that is wiping out the use of film, just about anyone with money and adequate desire can become a photographer. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an absolutely good thing. I have always been of the mind that photography should be something you do, as opposed to who you are. For far too long, photographers have tried to maintain this aura of superiority because they were this guild of magicians with their control of apertures, f-stops and light metering that regular people could never really understand.

Then came the advent of the digital camera.

All of a sudden everyone (including myself) were becoming camera enthusiasts, and while there was and still is push back from pro shooters, the walls were thinning and from it came a new cadre of photographers who were making images just as good because their cameras were doing much of the heavy lifting for them. All these shooters had to do was capture the same thing as the pros…the moment.

Capturing the “moment” is something that auto setting cannot compensate for. It’s the thing that truly separates the pro from the consumer. That one image, culled from shooting multiple images, and in the case of model photography, it’s achieved by knowing your subject, working with your subject to put together that one in a hundred shot that will grace portfolios, magazine covers or billboards.

Well, cameras like the EPIC M will change that.

Now to be sure, DSLRs have been moving towards more hybrid action between motion and still; even the most entry level of Canon Rebel series cameras have HD camcorder ability. But not like what you’re getting with the EPIC M on the professional end. Now the impetus doesn’t have to be on getting the “moment” shot, because technically, you can just take this camera and do a motion shoot on a set, and an EDITOR can go through the footage and pull out an extremely hi-res frame and there you go. Folks, this camera shoots at 128 fps, something that practically guarantees than any single frame will generate a shot just as good as anything that can be shot on a still camera.

(c) 2011 Vincent Laforet

Have a look at that shot.

This is a frame grab from a video shot at 96 fps on an EPIC M by photographer Vincent Laforet. Look at the depth and definition, something that would only seem to come from a still camera. Laforet wrote about his experience with the EPIC M, and he feels this has the potential to cause radical change within photography.

Now make no mistake, still photography certainly isn’t going away, not by a longshot, but think about the implications for commercial photography. Consider how this camera could be used at weddings, where a photographer would simply need to just take sweeping shots of the scenery and then go back over the video and pluck choice frame grabs later on.

What this also means is that now the relationship between photographer and editor will take an even more dramatic turn. Instead of using an editor to retouch photos, now you can use an editor to help you select the shot from the video footage. The possibilities are many, and once again, the paradigm is shifting.

Welcome to the future.

For more on the RED EPIC M, visit their Web site.

For an interview with Vincent Laforet on the convergence that will come with cameras like the EPIC M, visit APhotoEditor.


I stand corrected…

So, after going on about W Magazine not having any models of color on their covers, I open up my mailbox yesterday and see the above. Guess that’ll show me, huh?

But…it’s Beyonce. Beyonce is always on a cover of a magazine somewhere (end whining.)

Now I don’t have anything against the woman personally, but I don’t know if you can call it diversity for W when the last person of color on the cover was Rhianna in February 2010. Yes, yes, I know…it’s nitpicking in many ways, and as I had mentioned in the previous blog, there is an overall lack of supermodels on the cover of fashion magazines anymore, but still.

In moments like this, I wonder how Edward Enninful feels, that is, if he feels anything at all about the issue, but I certainly suspect he does.

I guess you have to pick your spots where you can find them, right?

Of course, it’s pointless then to mention that Beyonce didn’t have the sole distinction of making the cover of this month’s W Magazine alone. It was actually a split issue, with the other cover model being Christina Aguilera.

Yes, I suppose it is nitpicking indeed.

Next week, we will be shifting slightly away from fashion and talking about the coming advent of HDSLR photography. It could be that gone are the days when a photographer looks for “the moment”, because he will be preoccupied with shooting HD video instead of still images.

It’s an interesting, and potentially frightening concept. But then change and evolution have always been frightening to a certain extent.

Have a good weekend, everyone…

“If a girl is very dark, they say no…”

As if we needed a reminder, racism in fashion is still very much alive and well.

In an article printed in the Daily Mail yesterday, columnist Liz Jones exposes what many in the fashion industry already knew: Black models are, for the most part, considered undesirable for runway and print work. While this is not completely new information, it’s disappointing that in 2011, this still has to be an issue.

And it’s a glaring one.

Like searching for a raisin in a bowl of rice

Thinking critically, the idea that black models are having trouble finding work or are being deemed unacceptable really puts a shine on yesterday’s post where the subject was on transgendered and androgynous models finding success within the industry. To put it bluntly, a man who is masquerading as a woman seems to be getting more work than black women who are…well…women.

Certainly, that’s a broad take on the issue, and I’m not asserting that fashion houses and magazines would rather hire a man who passes for a woman over an actual woman, just because he’s white. That would make things too simplistic, and why do that when there are fashion insiders who will lay it on the table openly? Take for example, supermodel legend Naomi Campbell’s former agent Carole White who, when interviewed by Jones for the Daily Mail story, said:

“At the high end, it is slightly better now. But in the mid-range — the catalogues, the e-commerce websites — it is difficult. They want girls who are ethnic, but light-skinned girls. If a girl is very dark, they say no.” Carole says the problem stems from the influential fashion capitals of Milan and Paris. ‘There, they absolutely don’t want black girls. A black model has to be a real star before you can take her there. They only take a black girl when the biz is buzzing about her.”

A real star. Like Beyonce or Rhianna, who have appeared on the covers of magazines such as Vogue. But what about some of the other publications out there. Personally, I subscribe to three fashion magazines: Vogue US, W Magazine and V Magazine. After reading the Daily Mail story, I went over to my subscription pile and had a look for myself, because I wanted to be sure.

Of the three magazines, Vogue US featured two Black women on the cover over the course of the past year: Halle Berry on the cover of the vaunted September 2010 issue, and Rhianna, who made the cover in April 2011. Neither women are models, but rather, celebrities, which gibe with White’s account. Looking at V Magazine, only one woman of color graced the cover over the past year, hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj, who again, is a celebrity and not a model herself. What struck me as the mostpeculiar is W Magazine, who had no models or celebrities of color on their covers, and the reason that’s so peculiar to me is that the current Fashion Director of W is a Black man by the name of Edward Enninful. (Named in the Daily Mail article as one of the major Black players in the fashion scene along with make-up artist Pat McGrath and models Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede and Joan Smalls.)

Now in the interest of fairness, none of these magazines are currently featuring models of any color on their covers. This is mainly due to the fact that with the industry in such dire shape, it’s far more important to have celebrities grace the covers so that sales can be supported. I can’t argue much with that. However, upon opening the pages to some of the print advertisements, it is clear that there is a marked dearth of models of color in those ads.

In the Daily Mail article, White also pinpoints photographers, saying a lot of them “don’t know how to light a black girl.” While I’m not currently shooting fashion for any big agency, house or publication, I certainly know how to light a woman of color. And if that is the case, why is that photographer being given the opportunity to do such high-profile work?

What’s clear by reading that article, and others, such as one which appeared on Jezebel, talking about how the last Fashion Week in New York City was “the whitest Fashion Week in years.” From the article:

“New York fashion week featured 137 designer runway shows and presentations, and 5,269 different fall outfits were presented to the world’s retailers and press. Of those 5,269 looks, 4,468 — an overwhelming 84.8% — were modeled by white women. 801 of those looks were given to models who aren’t white. Black models were used 384 times. Asian models were used 323 times. Non-white Latina models were used 79 times. Models of other races only made it onto the runways of New York City — one of the most racially diverse places on this planet — 15 times.”

Staggering numbers. But then again, who are the purveyors of fashion, more specifically, Haute Couture? Affluent White people. If it is that the numbers skew in that direction, then one could argue that the models we see in the ads and on the runways are simply a reflection of the buying market. Someone would argue that, and they would do it in the hopes that it would make sense and subsequently make everything alright. But that’s lip service. Just like it’s lip service when a fashion magazine will put out an issue devoted to full-figured models. It’s all lip service.

I love all models. Fat Models, Thin Models, Black Models, White Models, Asian Models, Hispanic Models…you bring them, and I’ll shoot them. And I’ll also know that no matter how sexy, how well-lit and beautiful the shots are, in many corners of the fashion world…it wouldn’t even be close to good enough.

A pity.


All the subtle sights of summer to come…

Drunk GirlHope everyone is having an awesome holiday. The above picture was courtesy my weekend spent at the Indy 500. Not much in the way of composition, but I think the picture tells its own story.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back on our grind, with fresh new content and hopefully a few surprises.

In the meantime, soak up the sun wherever you’re at, and maybe get a little camera time in. Enjoy whatever you’re doing, but only in moderation lest you end up looking like our friend above.

See you tomorrow!

But is it art?

B&W Scarf

B&W ScarfThis morning, while making my rounds on the interwebs (you’d think there would be a method to the madness of posting to a blog…ha), I came across something that gave me pause.

It wasn’t a picture…it was a comment:

There’s no art here. This is photojournalism. Plain and simple, maybe brutal, but images look like it could be taken by anybody who was at the same place and at the same time. This “photographer” doesn’t deserve to be singled out.
May 15, 2011 4:47 AM

This was in reference to a posting on the 500 Photographers blog, (which if you haven’t seen it, or aren’t familiar with it…go there immediately!) which featured Photographer #290, Diego Levy. The images selected were both stark and brutal.

Diego Levy Photography

(C) Diego Levy via 500 Photographers

Diego Levy Photography

(c) Diego Levy via 500 Photographers

So according to the poster, another photographer, none of what you see above was art because as it put it, “[the picture] could be taken by anybody at the same place and at the same time.”

My initial reaction from such a statement was one of incredulity. Art is something that many of us believes is completely subjective, and as such, who is to say what can pass as art? Must art come as an independent creation? I don’t want to get too metaphysical or philosophical on the matter, but images such as these force a viewer to take something from it, and for that reason alone, an argument for art can be made. But then that is just another subjective opinion.

Tom HubbardFor another view on the idea of photojournalism as art, a 2005 Digital Journalist article written by Ohio State University professor emeritus Tom Hubbard, speaks clearly to the subject when he said:

“The essence of art is an individual work, not a formula. Art may react to an event or an entire age. When photojournalism escapes formula, its product is art. That’s where photojournalism overlaps art.”

One could certainly argue that this is where Diego Levy’s work lies. But then this is just an argument about photojournalism. If we are to take Hubbard’s words at face value, then the argument that anything could be art is strengthened.

Today’s image at the top is basically a black and white picture of feet. Is that art? By Hubbard’s standard, if it represents an individual work, and not formula, then it is the essence of art. You may think differently.


What then of the female nude? One could argue, and rather strongly, that the nude image to this point has become formulaic. So, if a person takes a picture of breasts, are they submitting to formula? And in that formula, no matter how well or poorly lit or composed, is there true artistic value anymore?

It really is all subjective.