Tuesday, July 22, 2008

it's all just smoke and mirrors...

This morning I was planting some geraniums left over from a photo shoot a few days ago, and I came across this:

a lovely plant, but something wasn't quite right...

Oh, right...real plant not lush enough? No problem! Just add some flowers!
the real thing
Ever wonder why everything looks so much better in catalog photographs than in real life? What planet do these lush flowers and fluffy, soft beds and gorgeous fashions that fit perfectly on flawless models come from, anyway? And why the hell doesn't it look like that on me/in my house/in my yard???!
The answer is, it could. That is, it could if you're not disinclined to wear your clothes clamped in the back with pins and clothespins, gaffer's tape and wire...or if you don't mind sleeping in a bed with 3 or 4 layers of down, packing tape and foam blocks, or if you don't mind planting silk flowers in place of real ones in your garden.
My job as a photo stylist is pretty hard to describe to most people without a rather lengthy explanation. It's not very complicated, really, (and it's definitely not brain surgery) but it's one of those invisible professions designed to be behind the scenes...it's all about creating illusion with smoke and mirrors, so to speak.
Advertisers would probably sooner poke their eyes out with a sharp stick rather than let the general public know just how much adjusting, tweaking, fluffing, buffing, polishing, etc. it takes to make their products look appealing in a photograph.
Many art directors like to say they're not selling a product, they're selling a lifestyle.
Photo stylists sometimes specialize in specific areas. Some work strictly with models on fashion shoots, some do nothing but food. Others choose to work only on room sets or with soft goods. Some, like me, like to work on a little of everything. I mostly work on soft goods: apparel, bedding, towels, etc. Live models really aren't my thing, although I've been known to pinch hit when necessary. Personally, I prefer working with mannequins and inanimate objects, mostly because they don't complain if I accidentally stick them with a pin.

~ lifestyle ~

~ reality ~

Even a photo of a stack of neatly folded t-shirts is not entirely what it seems...

I could tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you...So next time you look at a Macy's, Mervyn's or Target ad, or a Pottery Barn catalog, or even a fashion spread in Vogue, remember to view it with a healthy dose of skepticism...and never say I didn't warn you.


g said...

Hah!! I love this! I'm sort of a behind-the-scenes kinda gal myself, career-wise, so I got a kick out of this.

Sparx said...

Dear me - nothing I hadn't kind of expected though... but perhaps not the plant!