Please don’t yell at me but …

I don't get it. Photography, and being an artist in general, is about trying to see beyond the obvious. We are to try and explore the external and internal world in an attempt to reveal some kind of truth and encourage the audience to engage in a dialog about our subject and point of view upon it. Right? Yet every few years there is a resurgence of portraits that seems to me to be taken by photographers who are using basically none of the tools of photography to make a compelling/story telling image about their subject. 

What I'm talking about is almost always a person usually standing directly in the middle of the frame with very little environment around them and almost nothing in the foreground. The person has their hands at their side or in a position where there is no kind of gesture. The subject has no expression – call it the "thousand yard stare" if you will so there is no emotive state other than possible boredom as they look into the lens. The scene is either lit with direct on camera flash or unflattering ambient light.

I call this the "Diane Arbus effect". I'm not blaming her but she is one of the originators of this kind of work. Since she's dead she won't be directly confronting me about it. But this kind of look which I've been seeing a lot of, again!, lately makes no sense to me.  There is no: 1) use of color/graphics, 2) dynamic composition, 3) dynamic lighting or 4) moment that makes the photo interesting. The image, which is printed in an established and visually respected publication, is just plain boring. Now Arbus did a whole body of work this way and I have never understood why she's famous – that's me just ranting btw. But all these people, professional photographers mind you, appear to be telling their subjects to "go stand over there and look like you wish you were somewhere else". The most boggling thing to me is that these images get published and the creators get more assignments to produce the same kind of work. Wha?

I think that there is a huge difference from producing a photographic likeness of a person and creating an evocative portrait. The kind of images that I'm picking on I find to be neither inspired nor inspiring. They just puzzle me. Meh!

So here of mine that I'm happy with: This is Sven Hadenas, part of my "Chef's that I dig" series.
Sven Hedenas

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