As the new year approaches, thoughts of the future and a sense of renewal consume many of us. We look at January 1st as a time to start over and make improvements in our lives, stop some bad habits, or start some new ones. Photographers are no different.
Some of us could stand to drop a few pounds, clean up our diets, exercise more, stop smoking or drinking so much, etc. and some of us could stand to take a step back from our craft and explore ideas or techniques we either haven’t applied yet or don’t know.
One of the best ways to discover these “new to us” techniques is to review the work of those who have impacted the world of photography (and art in general) and analyze what makes those images work. After all, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re from. Time Magazine released a special edition called “100 Photographs-The Most Influential Images of All Time”.
This collection is on newsstands until January 13 and retails for $13.99. If you’d rather not buy the collection in print, they have a nice site set up with each selection and a description. Not many, in fact, very few of the images included will be directly applicable to glamour photography and those who share our passion for this particular style. But, any photographer can find value and lessons they can apply to their work.
“There is some truth to the famous quote saying, “Every photograph is a lie,”Many of the photographs included are journalistic in nature (or considered “street photography”). How does this style apply to glamour photographers? There is some truth to the famous quote saying, “Every photograph is a lie,” in that the photographer only shows the viewers what he or she wants them to see.
With cropping, the photographer tells a story by including only the elements that support their vision or their perspective of the story they wish to tell.
Glamour photographers should keep this idea in mind because if they want to tell a story with each image, the additional elements present(everything but the model) that the photographer chooses to show must support and strengthen the story or the photo will fall short. Many times, less is more when it comes to supportive elements. Adding more elements (or, worse, not noticing them and removing them) to an image can easily clutter it and cloud the intended presentation.
Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants
Some of the photographers staged their images. Annie Leibovitz’s image of a pregnant Demi Moore and Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants both made an impact on the world albeit in different ways. Aspiring photographers should take note of not only the technical aspects of these images (the lighting, the styling, the choice of color or B&W, etc.) but what each photographer was saying with their work.
Demi Moore by Annie Leibovitz
Consider the world surrounding them at the time they created these works, how those photos reflected society at the time, and how that place in time influenced the images they shot.
Time magazine didn’t necessarily include because of their ability to sell a product. But, more importantly, because of the impact those images had in the world. Some of these pictures provoked controversies such as Mapplethorpe’s Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter that ultimately led to an obscenity charge against a Cincinnati art museum and its director.
Mapplethorpe’s Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter
Other photos such as Richard Prince’s (Cowboy) and Andres Serrano’s Immersions (Piss Christ) shook the foundations of the art world and created incredible press and public awareness of the photographers.
Richard Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy)
Andres Serrano’s Immersions (Piss Christ)
Though glamour photography is relatively tame in comparison to the portrayal of the underground gay S&M culture, a stolen work, or a crucified Jesus suspended in urine, the lesson remains that to get noticed, a photographer needs to do something different and make some noise with their art.
“Over 1.3 trillion photos taken in 2016. With so many images created, it’s easy to see why some people feel that photography has lost value”There is an estimate that there will be over 1.3 trillion photos taken in 2016. With so many images created, it’s easy to see why some people feel that photography has lost value.
There is a strong argument that the market is oversaturated and it’s so easy to take a great photo with a simple cell phone camera, so it begs the question, “Why would anyone bother to invest time and energy in photography?” The answer lies within these 100 images.
If you’ve lost faith in photography, it’s worth taking a few minutes to pour over these images. Photography remains such a powerful medium, and it can shape the opinions of the world. Stark images from the Vietnam War such as Eddie Adams’ Saigon Execution changed Americans’ sentiment about the conflict.
Eddie Adams’ Saigon Execution
And even almost 50 years later, photographs still have the ability to humanize us and change the way we think about current events. Nilüfer Demir’s photo Alan Kurdi showed a mere glimpse into the horror of the situation of the Syrian refugees and brought it to the eyes of the public.
Nilüfer Demir’s photo Alan Kurdi
Photography is important. It helps to shape and define us. It opens our eyes to both beauty and horror that we might otherwise miss. It serves as a monument and an immortal reminder of moments that would otherwise get lost in time. Time’s compilation serves as a reminder of this and celebrates the craft and impact of photography and hopefully inspires more photographers to create meaningful works of art that will influence and change the way the world thinks.
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