Purpose of Fashion Photography

So I began delving a little more deeper into the world of fashion photography. I guess I’m still trying to explore what exactly fashion photography means. ¬†Some people I’ve discovered so far have such strong styles that I believe much of the Indian market would not even look at it. I find some of this work impressive.

But as a photographer still quite new to the professional field, which side should one choose? The traditional, commercial and sometimes predictable way to pay the bills or starve and follow what you believe is creativity?

When my bank account is a little flush, I believe in the latter. And then I realise I have no money for at least a cup of tea and figure sometimes, you have to sell a little bit of your soul.

The minute you attach ‘commercial’ to your photographer tag, you become a businessperson and an artist. In the 21st century, it is sort of possible for both to survive in the same person, though there is a lot of disgust, frustration and such things when you are wearing the business hat.

But back to the topic of Fashion Photographers, I found one woman among the names I scrounged from here and there.

Does a woman’s interpretation of fashion differ? Of course it does! Duh!

Then why aren’t there more women in fashion photography considering we understand and love fashion, what looks good on a woman, how to be sensual or sexy or funny or all those things. Or at least you will know it better when you start thinking about it. And as women, we constantly watch and judge other women as well, be it even in a cafe. We check out shoes, clothes, hair, makeup etc. But apparently such things do not translate more than a pasttime.

Regardless of gender, the viewpoint of photographers from Europe or NY seems to be vastly different from their Indian counterparts. I have barely even scratched the surface of these huge photographer fraternities, but among Indian names there are probably a couple that spring to mind. And I’ve never been too impressed with their work.

Is fashion way too influenced by the movie perspective? Or don’t people care enough about it to innovate and are happy to duplicate?

And is fashion photography, or just photography for that matter only about pretty people? Isn’t there more of a challenge in capturing an interesting face?

I took photo of a very pretty friend a couple of years ago. When I posted it on Facebook, I got a lot of oohs and aahs… but I’d stopped trusting FB as a source of proper judgement on photos. So on Flickr, I got truly beaten. “Pretty face but what’s interesting in the photo” was the common refrain.

There are people who I believe have truly traditional faces, faces that seem all angles and shadows that play beautifully in front of the camera. Of course, the model’s attitude is really important too… but when you are shooting candids, it isn’t about the person having a perfect skin tone, teeth or eyes. It is the story those things are saying.

And there I am, back to talking about candids instead of orchestrated photographs that tell a story. The challenge that lies there, working with all the elements, to tell the story you want to in a single shot. The shot that makes people want to be like the men and women in those shots. Dream and aspire. Is that the purpose of fashion photography?

Or is it merely… a tool for enchancing beauty? Work from the 50s would tell me it is the former… but more recent work I’ve seen makes me believe it is the latter.

Maybe it is time for innovation again.

(These are notes on my journey of photography. I’m still learning and there’s a long way to go. My perspectives will change everyday as I discover my style, likes & dislikes and art forms. This isn’t meant to insult anyone or anything… just an opinion that might change tomorrow, when I’m hopefully wiser.)

… and 2012

I’ve written and deleted two posts. Being the first day of this hopeful new year, I do not want to talk about anything serious or negative.

Like the comments made by some moronical politicians and cops about fashionable women and rape.

I do not want to talk about the year gone by and hopes for the year ahead. I’ve read so many “best things of 2011” and worst of 2011 posts everywhere that my mind is on the verge of exploding. Who cares what movies rocked or not? There are probably a handful that I remember 10 years from now anyway, and I’m sure I won’t particularly remember which year it came out.

As long as there are quality movies to watch, I don’t want to make a list.

But then I came across Variety’s Best Dressed People of 2011 and I wondered – why the hell do we pay so much attention to fashion?

Possibly a stupid question from someone who shoots fashion… but then again, how many female fashion photographers are there? If we really love shoes and bags so much, shouldn’t we be wanting to shoot them as well?

But nope… not really. It is the men… and it isn’t because they have a better perspective. Would it be the sight of attractive women that keeps them going? The steady stream of bags, dresses, belts and more just bores me to death. I like the challenge of being able to capture objects but somehome, I like shooting more realistic moments.

My loss or my USP, as it may be.

But I’m still on the look out for those strong female photographer icons. Men and women approach things differently… it might be cultural or social training, but there you go. I’d like to see how much of the difference exists on this platform.

Who is your favorite female photography icon?

… and yes, here’s to a healthier, wealthier, happier and good-er 2012.