itīs back to this bloody TEAM thing that has turned fashion into what it is, something that doesnīt reflect the tight photographer/model relationship but merely represents what passes for some sort of trade consensus of what fashion photography is about, no, what fashion photography is.
It would be interesting to hear some feedback from the photographer about whose work/camera experience this thread is a result. Perhaps he doesnīt see any of this comment reflected in his life.
Sometimes the internet makes you feel like a dog baying at the moon.
Ciao - Rob C
Every photographer/ artist has outside influences, either direct from clients, editors, gallery owners, or just subconsciously from being visually bombarded by the 4 million images hanging in windows, stores and news-stands on Broadway.
Then you add in the thousands of comments/critiques you receive in your career, good and bad and it takes a strong personality to shake them loose so something even close to original can be produced.
It was that way during Stern and Kane's time and it is the same today.
Actually I know someone well that worked with Art Kane and as talented as his work was, it was anything but small production, not always intimate and rarely without pressure.
Also, every photographer is a reflection what what they put in front of their lens. Great, interesting and unique subjects inspire, less than great, interesting and unique subjects place the session into damage control, or a better description would be blandness control.
This holds true for every genre of photography, not just fashion. Avedon's American West would look much different if it was shot at a mall in El Paso using GAP employees as subjects.
Also Avedon's West would have a much different look if the production values of crew, lighting and background were not added into the artistic mix.
I've heard forever about the purity of the image, and though I understand the statement, I know that photography isn't a painting that only results out of the mind and hand of the artist and even if that was true, that is but one segment in an art that has many classifications.
Photography is a tangible record of a real moment, whether that moment is found, constructed or contrived and regardless of popular belief nearly all photography of merit is contrived in some way.
Yes sometimes the "Team" approach can be limiting, but that usually depends on the "Team" and who is responsible for the room. Everyone in my group I've worked with for years and in my view they have a very positive influence on the work. Once again, great hair, makeup, styling and attitude inspires, and . . . well you get the idea.
Also never underestimate how important a talented producer is to a project. Stepping off a plane to waiting cars, drivers, equipment and resource is invaluable. Nothing frees the mind like a smooth production where every contingency is planned for.
It can take years, investment, human equity and a hard earned reputation to assemble a a great "team" and more importantly to find clients that expect more from a photograph than what was done before on page 6 of your portfolio.
We are also a reflection of the attitude of the day. An upbeat, excited room will produce a better result than a negative atmosphere and if not better, at least a whole lot easier.
There seems to be this misconception that fashion photographers come on set wearing a scarf, holding a fluffy poodle and only contribute to the photograph by pushing the button between sips of a low fat, low whip lattte and maybe that happens in some instances, but not on our productions.
We work like warriors and move the room to fit the subject. If the model plays left and the lighting is set to the right, we move the room 180, rather than force the subject into something that probably will never work.
The essence of professional photography is being able to produce the desired result on demand. Sometimes, with some projects the bar is raised high and those are wonderful days. Other times we're limited by time, budget, or the initial directive, but the "on demand" part of this sentence should not be underestimated.
Maneuvering your way into having great subjects and resouce is an art in it's own right.
I have a reputation for shooting a lot of different work in a wide range of genres. I do this by choice and for many reasons, some personal, some economic, but mostly because I really have never understood the difference between shooting farmers in Brazil or models in Milan. To me it's all just subject, light and background and a goal to produce an image with a final, positive result.
I work with a crew of one, or 25 and each require different management skills, but one style of production is no more or less valid or intimate than the other.
For years I've seen aspiring photographers thumb through a magazine or go online and respond "I could have done that if I had that model, that location, that budget".
Maybe, maybe not, but once an image is published it's pretty much road-mapped for everyone to see and emulate. Having the original thought on the day and the ability to assemble the people needed is a much different proposition. Doing it under the pressure of large expense, nervous clients and limited time, resets the dial to a higher frequency.
In my view, a photographer's jobs is more than just composition, lighting or direction. It's learning how to read, respond and diffuse a whole mix of different situations, personalities and cultures and do it so the process and result are positive.
Working for clients in Japan requires a different approach than communicating with clients in Paris, New York, or Chicago and the faster I and the crew recognize these differences the sooner we can get to the job at hand.
Few projects, personal or commissioned, come to pass without a long list of desires and objectives and acomplishing these goals is the biggest challange and has the greatest reward.
As I write this I have people working in three cities and two countries on production. They stop their lives and go to work at less than a moments notice and I am grateful and proud beyond explanation to work with people of this character.
Crew such as this don't do it for the money, the client, or for me. They answer to their own calling, always at the expense of a "normal" personal life.