Side-By-Side Comparison - The Whites of The Model's Eyes? Issues and Answers
Side-By-Side Comparison - Levels for Photoshop Magic in Your Photos

Photo Styling - "Reality" or Getting Real - an Authentic Opinion

Hotbutton We've been discussing photos for almost two months, there is so much to consider. Your photos are the MOST IMPORTANT tool in the artists' or makers' toolbox.



Your photos are like Superheros traveling at the speed of light, working 24 hours a day, shrinking and expanding at the touch of a button. The folks at Search Engine People sum up this discussion about images perfectly:

The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so it’s useless to pretend that others don’t, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.

One of the hot button topics is photo styling which was discussed at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar in Seattle.  Photo styling as in the stylistic appearance of the photos for your work.

Authenticity The question we are all asking is, "What attributes make an effective photo in documenting art or craft?"  My observation is that there is a shift in the marketplace toward the concept of somehow "capturing authenticity."

Advertising and marketing increasingly strive toward "real" and "just like me".  Even when models are used, the models are presented with a less formal appearance, almost moving to ordinariness. Advertising is suggesting a more "authentic" context or "back story", instead of glamor or seduction.

Teacup Sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman as a commentary about our consumer society. But let's not be fooled. The models, however "real" in their appearance are still models. They have just spent hours in hair and make-up, their photos are taken by professional photographers with 10 assistants to make sure that the "authentic" look doesn't look fake. But this "real and authentic" look is still fabricated, and the photos are still airbrushed.

Authenticity Hoax, How We Get Lost Finding OurselvesI am still amazed that television has successfully coined the phrase "reality show" to describe completely synthetic scenarios populated by selectively skewed "ordinary" people who are thrown into bogus competitions. Or what about commercials that LOOK like they are REAL testimonials? Is a "behind the scenes" Victoria's Secret Fashion Show really real?

Buyology Art and craft photography is trending right alongside this current style in marketing. To quote Martin Lindstrom from the book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. "What we're beginning to witness in the advertising world today is a fascinating marriage between the world of the airbrushed supermodel and the world of the ordinary consumer -- a blurry union between perfect and not so perfect."

Counter Culture As the selling of "authenticity" grows, the marketing of art and craft will continue to evolve.  However, I am concerned by an overemphasis on enhancing reality with artificial authenticity.  

The handmade object remains as authentic as it gets. Art and craft don't need to dumb down our work or reduce the quality of our images to enhance reality. We are still selling the one thing that can't be mass-produced, the touch of the hand, the quality and craftsmanship from personal care and attention by artists and makers that really do care along with fabulous ideas.

What do you think? Do makers need to enhance authenticity or style reality in the photography of their very real work?  How do you photograph and sell the authenticity of your work? 

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This post was updated on January 27, 2022.