Friday, February 18, 2011


One of the things, one of the disturbing things I noticed, during my sojourn in Italy is the way in which people have their picture taken nowadays.

When I was a kid, almost half a century ago, you shot your friends or family members on a roll of film that held 12, 24 or 36 shots. You stood there, if you were being shot, and smiled and tried not to look nervous. You hoped for a good shot.

Today, people pose. They stare into the camera and scowl or glare. They jerk their bodies around and try to look tough and angular. In short, people having seen on TV how models behave when they're being shot, regular people try to act like models.

Just sitting by the Trevi Fountain one afternoon, it's not unusual to see some woman take a dozen or so shots of her bff while her bff strikes all manner of poses.

What strikes me in all this is how inculcated we all are with "how we are supposed to act." If we were dogs, our masters would say, "Look at Sparky. He's learned the picture-taking trick."

Learned behavior is not necessarily bad. But it is necessarily unoriginal. If we are having our picture taking we act and try to look like the models we've seen having their pictures taken.

Similar posing seems to me to take place within the hallowed walls of the agency world. Originality is not at a premium, referential-ness is. If your work feels and looks like something that's gone before, it wins.

It all makes me think of a quotation by, I think, the great art-director Helmut Krone. "If you can say you like it, you've probably seen it before."


Sell! Sell! said...

Very true George. "That looks like what good advertising looks like" is the new way of judging work - in agencies and awards. Occasionally something slips through, but generally it is making every year's winners at creative awards, and every reel or book look very similar.

Tore Claesson said...

I think you have a point there about photography.
in the beginning of photography exposures were long. People had to sit still, keeping their hands and head as still as possible not to appear blurry. A neck and head support support held the head in place. And people couldn't smile, as lips could fluctuate and get blurry. I suppose the serious expressions had something to do with teeth back then as well, and also the moment in itself. Photography was expensive and rare. An important occasion. But somehow we see more of a person in those photos than an album full of silly posing.

Hannah said...

Sorry not everyone's as innovative a model as you faja - although sarah did coin the moose pose