The Photographs of Mario Testino

Thus far none of my visual diary entries have covered the work of a fashion photographer. Therefore, I decided to discuss the positive and negative attributes of a single fashion photographer’s pictures for this journal entry. I picked Mario Testino after seeing him in the documentary “The September Issue,” which is about the production of Vogue’s most popular issue. Testino is a Peruvian photographer who currently lives in London. He is known for photographing high fashion shoots for numerous magazines and campaigns by fashion houses like Burberry and Michael Kors. Below are his images with my commentary:

 

BY MARIO TESTINO

 

1. This is an ad that Testino shot for Versace. I was immediately attracted to the color in this photograph. The saturation of the blue dress and soles of the blue shoes are both lovely. It’s very rich. The lighting is also important here because it enriches the tone of her tan, which also sets off the blue. In my opinion, this is a very successful photograph for Testino. Essentially he is hired to sell Versace’s clothes and he does a good job of presenting the clothes in an appealing way. The focus is on the dress and the model. She is beautiful and is posed in an intriguing manner but that is secondary to the clothes.

BY MARIO TESTINO

2. Testino shot this ad for the famous raincoat, clothing and accessories company Burberry. For the most part Burberry’s clothes only come in three colors; beige, black and white, so it’s appropriate that this photograph is in black and white. The black and white actually adds visual weight to this photograph because the background sinks away due to its dark color. The model in the light colored dress in the foreground really stands out. The rule of thirds is also present and it intersects right at the point where these two models are locking arms underneath the umbrella. Finally, it was an interesting stylistic choice by Testino to photograph in the rain and allow the raindrops to appear on film. I like this choice though; it adds a touch of realism to this photograph and shows off the functionality of Burberry’s wet weather clothing.

BY MARIO TESTINO

3. This Dolce & Gabbana ad works because Testino and his production designer fully committed to the theme of the 1970s. This ad is probably a few years old and represents a time period when 1970s clothes were back in style. I like that Testino stuck with the visuals of that time period including the warm tones, faded look of the film and the lens flares. Once again Testino manages to create an environment that is optimal for selling clothes. I like the scene that he has set here, the wooded locale, the nice weather, the fun friends and the delicious looking picnic. This ad is successful in my eyes because it gives me positive feelings about Dolce & Gabanna and their clothes.

BY MARIO TESTINO

4. This vertical rainbow colored ad is one of my favorites. Testino’s work tends to communicate a great sense of fun and whimsy and those two characteristics are especially apparent in this photograph. If this shot were in black and white, I would probably mistake it for being from the 1930s but Testino put it in full color, which makes it stand out. Shades of pastels are one my favorite ways to present color and I love the unique suit that the model is wearing here. The look on the model’s face is priceless too. It’s about a ½ second away from being a smirk. It was smart of the make-up artist to keep the model’s hair, face and finger nails colorless so that the suit, jaunty hat and background make this photograph.

BY MARIO TESTINO

5. The theme of this photograph is immediately apparent. The model in her hounds tooth suit and red boots is supposed to be a non-conformist. The men with their identical suits, hats and newspapers are a great visual representation of the Gestalt grouping law of similarity. The similar way in which these male models are dressed and are standing with their backs to the camera helps me see them as a pattern. The red boots add a nice pop of color to this picture as well. I don’t immediately know what this ad is selling but if it is the boots then Testino definitely did a good job of focusing on their unique color and style.

BY MARIO TESTINO

6. I like that Testino used a novel and visually stimulating angle on this photo. It’s a long shot and he didn’t go the usual route of shooting the model head on. He actually used the statue’s legs to block the first two-thirds of this photo, which perfectly frames the model in the final one-third of the image. The Gestalt law of closure is visible here because my eyes visualized the upper torso and head of the statue closest to the camera even though these parts weren’t visible. I think this is based on seeing the full statues in the background and imagining the half-seen statue as having a similar shape and style. The natural light filtering into this picture is really beautiful. It gives it an ethereal feeling. Overall, I like the scale of this photograph it looks like the much smaller model is lost in a world of large frozen giants.

BY MARIO TESTINO

7. I like the subtle use of shadow in this picture. Contrast is visible in the creases of the model’s dress, the hat on the model’s face and the cigar on the model’s shoulder. It’s a clue that very strong lighting was used for this shoot. It’s possible that Testino was attempting to make this picture look like it was taken at noon, outside in very direct sunlight. The close crop on this photograph, which cuts off part of the hat and part of the dress, leads me to believe that they are selling accessories here including her bracelet, alligator choker and earrings. Her head is even slightly turned to reveal the earring, which in turn obstructs one of her eyes.

 

BY MARIO TESTINO

8. This is an example of one of those fashion shoots that makes the industry look crazy because no one in their right mind would pay a large sum of money to wear this out on the street. These clothes are impractical and over the top. I actually think that Testino is in on the joke here. He has posed the model in such a way that she looks as uncomfortable as the clothes. Plus, she is looking at the camera confused, like she can’t understand why she has to hold this plaid bag above her head. Looking through these photos has shown me that Testino is adept at setting the correct mood and tone in his photographs. His photographs are usually more than just a standard fashion shot, there is usually at least one thing happening in them that makes me take a second look and this is important when people are paying him lots of money to create visually stimulating ads that sell expensive clothing.

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1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

The 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake happened in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California on October 17, 1989 (my birthday). I was a child at the time and found the whole ordeal to be quite scary. Recently I realized that I’ve never looked at news images of the earthquake’s destruction. I’m not exactly sure why but it’s probably one of two things: 1) We didn’t see much news coverage of the aftermath due to the fact that our power was out for two weeks after the earthquake 2) My parents knew that the earthquake scared me and they didn’t want to add to my fear.

Twenty-two years later my curiosity got the best of me. I decided to search for these images and then write a journal entry based on my impressions of them. I judged the photos on everything we’ve learned thus far in class but I kept in mind that many of these photos were taken on the fly with the photojournalists simply trying to capture what they saw. Therefore, I will not be strictly judging these photos on their composition and look.

BY GEORGE NIKITIN

1) This is a photo of a member of the California Highway Patrol checking out the Bay Bridge. It collapsed onto itself during the earthquake, trapping people and crushing their cars. This is one of those photos that doesn’t look real, instead it looks like the set of a Hollywood action movie. I think this is due to the fact that this photo is lacking context. Some information is present in this photograph (you obviously see the Highway Patrol and the crushed cars) but it’s hard to place without having other images or attaching words to it in the form of captions. It definitely represents historical context with what happened at the Bay Bridge but location could have been represented better if San Francisco’s cityscape was present in the background. As is, it looks like any bridge or stretch of freeway.

2) This is the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle the morning after the earthquake. This isn’t the best representation of a two-picture package. The dominant photograph is fine. It adequately shows the destruction in San Francisco with buildings, people and smoke from a fire, all visible. The second photo doesn’t add anything to this front page. It’s simply a second picture of destruction. I think a better second photo would have been one showing a view of humanity. That’s not present here because no individual’s face is visible, the audience doesn’t connect to anything and we are not seeing how people are coping with the quakes aftermath. The layout of this front page is nice. The dominant picture is run appropriately large, the two photos are different shapes, there is a good balance of white space and text and the captions are in appropriate places.

BY DEANNE FITZMAURICE

3) This is a photograph of a couple standing in front of their house in the mountains above my hometown of Santa Cruz. The earthquake made this crack. At the time these people lived quite close to the fault line. This picture is foreign to me in a weird way. This photographer captured something shocking (the crack in the earth) in a mundane way (people calmly posing by it). I definitely remember the earthquake but this photo is hard for me to look at because it shows how truly serious the destruction was. The composition of this image is nice. The radii of the crack vanishing out towards the horizon are visually stimulating. The black pit inside the crack adds some visual weight to the image and the scale of big versus little is present with the couple’s size juxtaposed against the size of the crack. It actually helps the audience perceive the true size of this hole in the earth.

BY E.V. LEYENDECKER

4) This is an aerial shot of the Bay Bridge in  its collapsed state. This photograph is mainly informational. The portion of the collapsed bridge, a crane and emergency vehicles are all visible. The “where” part of the 5 Ws is not fulfilled here. Like previously stated, this could be any bridge, in any city. This picture would not stand on its own. It would need to be apart of a piece with text in order for it to make sense. I actually think that this photo with the previous photo of the Bay Bridge would make for a nice use of the 3rd Effect. I think that having them presented side by side would enhance interpretation of what happened when the bridge fell.

BY PAT GREENHOUSE

5) In this photo, San Francisco Giants star player Will Clark is leading his younger brother away from Candlestick Park. The Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants were playing a World Series game in San Francisco the night of the earthquake. The first thing I think of when I see this picture is my brother Ethan. He is a huge Giants fan and Will Clark was his childhood idol. This photograph has huge historical significance because the baseball game was just about to start when the earthquake hit and it was the first time an earthquake was broadcast on national television. The game was cancelled and the World Series resumed 10 days later. Decisive moment is present in this photograph because the photographer was most likely at the game to capture images of the World Series but had to change gears once this natural disaster happened. Also, it’s rare to capture an athlete suited up for a game but not doing anything athletic. Instead this photo shows an athlete attempting to protect his family after a natural disaster.

BY CHRIS STEWART

6) This is a photograph of a family getting water in Watsonville, California. This is symbolic to me of what the days and weeks after the earthquake were like. Water coming out of the faucets was not safe to drink and there was no way to purify it, so many families (mine included) went to distribution centers to get water for drinking and cooking. I would say “X-Factor” is very strong for me with this photograph because it is bringing back memories of waiting for everything to go back to normal. My own experiences definitely help me bring unique feelings to this picture. An individual who didn’t live through this earthquake would not have the same reaction.

BY STEVE CASTILLO

7) Here is a family in a back yard in Watsonville listening to a radio. This is another photo where my own personal “X-Factor” is quite strong. This looks like the scene I remember every single family in our neighborhood acting out. There was no power therefore there was no point in staying inside your house at night because you couldn’t see anything. They have a fire going but it is most likely being used for light. I distinctly remember that day being unseasonably hot for October; it is what we now know as “earthquake weather.” I think this is a simple news photo. It’s not great because the audience is looking at people listening to a radio, which isn’t usually that interesting but it’s average.

BY DEANNE FITZMAURICE

8) The downtown area of Santa Cruz was essentially leveled in the earthquake. This is a photograph of one of the buildings that was eventually demolished and replaced with a different store. The historical context of this photograph is important because it shows Santa Cruz’s original downtown, which had an older architectural style and was filled with Victorian style houses and brick buildings. Twenty-two years later the downtown area is finally rebuilt but in a totally different style (modern architecture with lots of chrome and glass). If I were editing a piece for the newspaper, I would include this picture in a photo essay but not a picture story because it would fit in a simple collection of images. I wouldn’t include it as the dominant photo, or even the secondary but I would include it as a smaller image if I had space for four to six pictures in a spread. It would also work in a picture pair if the goal was to show the before and after of Santa Cruz’s downtown area.

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Picture Essay vs. Picture Story

For this journal entry I looked at the differences between picture story and picture essay. To make the visual comparison easier, I attempted to find picture essays and picture stories that showed the same subject matter. This proved to be difficult because there are a lot more picture essays floating around the internet than there are true picture stories. A lot of people advertised their work as picture stories but I didn’t think they fit the bill based on what we’ve learned in class. Therefore, I chose a picture essay about Yosemite National Park and a picture story about cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Below I have posted five pictures from each piece. I have also posted my opinions and comments on whether I think it fits into the category in which it was advertised. At the bottom I have posted my overall comments.

PICTURE ESSAY

This piece titled “Winter in Yosemite National Park” was advertised as a picture essay for the LA Times by Mark Boster.

BY MARK BOSTER

BY MARK BOSTER

BY MARK BOSTER

BY MARK BOSTER

BY MARK BOSTER

I definitely think that this piece fits into the category of picture essay. To begin with, the photos are of the same location and roughly the same subject matter but they aren’t totally interrelated. If the photographer (Mark Boster) had wanted to turn this into a picture story he could have followed a group of tourists, a park employee or a single animal as they went along their day in the snow. Instead, he photographed single images that are beautiful but don’t follow a timeline.

The theme with this picture essay is quite straightforward and clean. It’s winter time in Yosemite National Park and these are the various images that the photographer captured during a specific season. In total this essay contains about 20 images, some more eye-catching than others. I think this also qualifies as an essay because any of these photos could be taken out without incident. These individual photographs aren’t needed to tell a story therefore this essay could be displayed in parts or in full.

According to the LA Times’ website, this was one of four essays by the same photographer of Yosemite. His goal was to photograph Yosemite in all four seasons, so he traveled there four separate times during the course of a year in order to produce four different photo essays for their travel section. He shot this winter essay in February of 2010. Alone it doesn’t represent an essay’s long documentation process but when it is combined with the Yosemite four seasons projects it speaks to the length that often accompanies photo essays.

PICTURE STORY

This award-winning picture story was done by Chris Anderson for Esquire Magazine. It’s essentially a day in the life of cyclist Lance Armstrong as he prepares to compete his 6th consecutive Tour de France title.

BY CHRIS ANDERSON

Lance Armstrong on a training ride in the Hollywood Hills.

BY CHRIS ANDERSON

Lance Armstrong relaxes in the pool with his (then) girlfriend Sheryl Crowe.

BY CHRIS ANDERSON

Lance Armstrong prepares for future training sessions by looking over maps.

BY CHRIS ANDERSON

Lance Armstrong takes a short break during a photo shoot for Esquire Magazine.

BY CHRIS ANDERSON

Lance Armstrong on another training ride in the Hollywood Hills.

I would categorize this as a picture story for a variety of reasons. First, there is a beginning, middle and an end. We see Lance Armstrong at the beginning of the day (training) and the end of the day (training) and the various pieces that make up the other parts of his day (personal time, business and interviews/photo shoots). I included the last picture in this edit because I felt that it was like the quintessential ending shot of a picture story, the subject heading out towards the horizon. It’s a good visual representation of the end of Lance Armstrong’s day and the end of this story.

In addition, this story has a linear story and in my opinion all the photos are essential to that story. I don’t feel that any images could have been taken out here as successfully as they could have been removed from the picture essay. Interestingly enough, I needed the captions for this piece and I didn’t need any written explanation for the picture essay. The title simply helped me associate the winter photos with Yosemite as a location. I needed captions with these Lance Armstrong pictures in order to orientate time, place and people.

This is only a portion of the Lance Armstrong picture story but the original did include an opener (present here), an ender (present here), moment (present here), interaction (present here) and portrait (present here). When I edited it down I didn’t include any of the detail pictures but there was a great close-up of his muscular legs that would have been appropriate. I should have done a better job in editing the photos and not included some similar pictures but it was difficult to edit it down to only five photos.

OVERALL

This showed me that I am actually more attracted to the style of picture story than I am the style of picture essay. I like looking at beautiful pictures but I also like to witness a story take place in front of my eyes. I find that a picture story has more long-term emotional resonance with me. Seeing the progression of something helps me connect to the subject matter more often than it does with a set of photos that aren’t as related.

In addition, I know that I am a visual learner and I can learn something more concrete from a picture story than I can from a regular written news story. If I am shown what is happening, rather than being told what is happening, I am ten-times more invested in the outcome of the issue or subject. I recognize this in myself and I will now spend time looking for picture stories on important issues to aid in my comprehension.

 

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A Critique of Picture Packages

Prior to taking this class, I had never considered the concept of picture packages. I have looked at them in newspapers dozens of times but I have never put any thought into their physical production. Now that I know what makes a good (and bad) picture package, I decided to critique eight of them to see what makes them successful. These screen captures of newspaper front pages were found during a Google search. They contain picture packages of all genres (international news, breaking news, politics, sports, etc.). They come from a variety of newspapers and I believe nearly all of them feature only two photos. It should be noted that the newspaper covers were in extremely small PDF sizes, which means that it was impossible to read the names of the individual photographers. I apologize ahead of time that none of these photos feature the names of the people who took them.

BY UNKNOWN

1. In my opinion, this is a fairly strong picture package. To start with, it features a shot that every newspaper needed to run on September 12, 2001, that of the Twin Towers burning. It’s good that this picture ran large because its size helps readers understand the impact of what happened in New York City the previous morning. It definitely attracts attention and I bet it drew people into the story too. The second picture also good. It’s a medium shot that shows specific detail of what people were going through that morning. I believe that a two-picture package is appropriate here because one shows the physical destruction and the other shows the human suffering.

BY UNKNOWN

2. Here is a two-picture package from the front page of the Los Angeles Times’ sports section. It features two celebration photos from when the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals. I actually think that the top photo could have run alone and the audience engagement would have been the same. The below photo features Lakers then coach Phil Jackson. The purple and yellow confetti makes for a nice pattern but I actually think that this photo is redundant when it is compared with the top photo. In my opinion, a better second photo would have been a detail or close-up shot of a player’s ecstatic face or the sad face of a player from the other team. This is the Lakers hometown paper though; perhaps the editor didn’t want to feature the opposition prominently on the front page. I also think that a medium or overall shot of the fans celebrating would have worked too.

BY UNKNOWN

3. This is another NBA picture package. This package was published during the playoffs and I actually think it is more successful than the one in the Los Angeles Times for a few reasons. First, the top picture of the Oklahoma player is a much better shot than the previous picture of Kobe Bryant. This Oklahoma player picture is nicely composed and it definitely features the rule of thirds. In addition, the photographer managed to capture a moment of “peak action,” or in this case a moment of peak despair. The second picture in this package is also better because it manages to show the winning team in action. This is an Oklahoma based newspaper but the editors still showed a picture of the game that the team from Texas won. These two photos together are a good representation of before and after.

BY UNKNOWN

4. This is the front page of The Desert Sun the day after Senator Ted Kennedy passed away. It features a three-photo package of the late Senator. The first and largest photo appears to be the informational picture. It shows Senator Kennedy at some kind of political podium giving a somewhat passionate speech. The front page editor probably felt that this photo was a given. The second smaller photo shows President Obama intently listening to a speech by Senator Kennedy. They might have included this shot to show that he was a Democrat or that he had ties to the President. Finally, they ran an archival photo of the Senator as a young man with his brothers John and Bobby. This photo was probably seen as sentimental and informational. In my opinion, the content of these three photos is fine. I don’t like that the two smallest ones are the same size though. I feel that every picture in a package should run a different size.

BY UNKNOWN

5. This Seattle Times cover from the day after Osama bin Laden was assassinated is decent. They did a good job of picking three different photographs and running them three different sizes. The photo of Osama bin Laden is needed to clarify that it was he who was killed. The photo of Obama’s post assassination speech is fairly important because it informs the audience that he spoke to the public after this event. The crowd shot is also important because it shows a variety of people and their reactions to this news. It also makes a statement because it shows that they are in front of the White House and that they appear to celebrating the news. This definitely sends a message to the audience about the reaction to this assassination.

BY UNKNOWN

6. This Indianapolis Star front page is from the morning after Obama won the Presidential Election. Interestingly enough, a good portion of the newspaper front pages that I found during my Google search featured Obama. This is a good two-picture package because both pictures are important and because they are each shot from a different angle, which adds some visual appeal to the front page. The main picture is a good composition and the flags in the background make for a nice pattern. The smaller picture is a nice detail shot showing an audience member who is overwhelmed by the momentous occasion. I actually think that this could have run as a three-picture package. As the third picture, I would have liked to have seen an overall crowd shot to see how many people were actually there.

BY UNKNOWN

7. This two-picture package shows the flooding in Louisiana and the preparations that people made in order to protect their belongings. It works to have the main picture run large because it shows the scope and breadth of the flooding. It has a larger impact this way. The smaller, detail picture is also needed. It shows the human aspect of the flooding and how it is changing the day-to-day lives of Louisiana’s residents. Photos of destruction and humans dealing with destruction are both appropriate photos because they show the dualities of physicality and emotion. Neither of these photos is particularly interesting but they fill their purpose of visually representing a natural disaster and its effects.

BY UNKNOWN

8. I didn’t like this picture package right off the bat because the photos are the exact same size. I believe that a lack of picture variety makes it hard for the viewer to focus on a single image. Having these photos side by side means that they are actually fighting for attention on the front page. I appreciate that the Washington Post didn’t also use photos that were taken from the same angle but it doesn’t make up for the previous mistake. Neither of these photos is particularly informational. John McCain giving a speech and Obama shaking hands with audience members could be attached to any article about a political campaign. It’s possible that the paper was trying to draw a comparison between these two politicians by running their photos side by side but it just didn’t work for me.

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Bill Cunningham: Full of Contradictions?

BY RICHARD PRESS

I recently watched the documentary Bill Cunningham: New York. It is an interesting look at an 80-year-old fashion and society photographer who works for the New York Times. The one thing that struck me most about this film was the amount of contradictions that abound in Mr. Cunningham’s professional life. I will discuss some of these contradictions below.

To begin with, he is essentially a dinosaur in a digital world. As seen in the film, he still shoots on film, has his film developed at the corner bodega, edits his pictures using a negative magnifier and grease pencil and dictates the layout of his spreads to the editorial staff, so that they can create his vision on the computer. He also rides a bicycle everywhere and refuses all food and drinks while he is reporting. His working style is quite old-fashioned but it is pure. The world around him has changed but he has photographed the same way in New York and Paris for the past 40 years. He can’t be bought and it makes what he captures on film that much more interesting. It’s simply his distinct point of view without a lot of outside influence. In fact, at one point he says, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do kid.” This specifically refers to the paychecks that he used to receive from Details Magazine. He would get his paychecks there and take them into the boss’ office to make a show of ripping them up. That is essentially the style of Bill Cunningham. He does whatever he pleases and it appears like he is adored for it.

BY UNKNOWN

His personal style is very strong. He manages to fulfill two out of the three style rules in almost every shot he takes. They are visual and subject matter. His visual style is one of photographs in the candid manner. His candid photographs of people are usually shot from the hip or from below. His subject matter is also part of his personal style in that he is really interested in photographing clothes on the street and not necessarily the people wearing them. He doesn’t look for trends; instead he waits for the trends to appear to him. He actually doesn’t believe that his photography is about his subjective point of view. He says, “It isn’t really what I think, it’s what I see.”

Interestingly enough, this ties back into a contradiction about his life. He lives the most simple life possible; in an artist’s studio in Carnegie Hall where he sleeps on a cot and shares a bathroom and kitchen down the hall. It’s a contradiction because he spends the majority of his time photographing celebrities and rich individuals. This is mainly because he shoots two layouts for the New York Times, one deals with the social scene and the other spread shows up to the minute street fashion. Bill Cunningham wears roughly the same outfit every single day (khakis and a blue smock) but there he is at the most important galas photographing the Rockefeller family and Brooke Astor. He truly sees the same level of beauty in these socialites that he does in bag women on the streets. His unimpressed attitude is probably the main reason that people like Vogue editor Anna Wintour like him. He’s not desperate to get into their exclusive world, he actually shuns it. He would rather stand on the sidelines and capture these moments with his camera than join them at their events.

It also appears like Bill Cunningham is difficult to work with because he seems to be a perfectionist and he actually doesn’t like to have the camera turned on himself. Both of these things are present in a few scenes of the movie. The young man at the New York Times who helps Mr. Cunningham create his layouts on the computer is often fazed by the hours that Mr. Cunningham wants to spend moving each picture around until they are all “perfect.” He also gets cross with the documentary film team more than once because he doesn’t want them to constantly follow him or shoot something important. This is especially ironic considering that Bill Cunningham’s style could be called documentary. He often chases people down the street to take their pictures, he never asks permission to take awkward photographs of things like women in short skirts and his pictures often violate the rules of personal space. In the film a woman named Kim Hasreiter says, “He’s like a war photographer in that he’ll do anything for the shot.” His style could be compared to Garry Winogrand because they both take candid photos of women on the street. He doesn’t like the documentary film team intruding on certain parts of his life but his own pictures often feel intrusive.

Another interesting contradiction in the life of Bill Cunningham is that he doesn’t really believe he is a good photographer. He thinks he is just having fun. I bet he is having fun but I believe that his photographs have visual merit.

BY BILL CUNNINGHAM

To begin with, this white/black fashion shoot is one of my favorites of his early pictures. This photograph definitely displays the Gestalt law of similarity. The shoes, tights and skirts are similar enough that we see them as the same pattern, shape, texture and size.

BY BILL CUNNINGHAM

His street photography often features the principle of the 3rd effect but with dozens of photographs. This layout of women carrying a very similar black bag is an example of this. One or two shots of black bags wouldn’t have the same effect as 20. It helps the reader see the prominence of these bags around town but it also helps the reader draw comparisons between the women, their style and the manner in which they carry these very similar bags.

BY BILL CUNNINGHAM

I also believe that his pictures show an understanding of composition. For instance this layout of pictures of people wearing trench coats is nice. I see representations of the rule of thirds, patterns, decisive moment, scale and layering in these photos. Overall his pictures might not be classic art photography but he does a great job of capturing the history of New York street fashion and he does it on the move, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do as a photographer.

Bill Cunningham is a true original that has carved out a niche for himself in the world of photography. I liked this quirky and sweet documentary and would recommend it to anyone who likes New York, fashion, photography or documentaries.

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Hierarchy and the Los Angeles Times

This week’s discussion about the hierarchy made me think about the news images that I see on a daily basis. I was curious to see how many of them would fulfill all four categories of the hierarchy: informational, graphic appeal, emotional and intimate. I decided to conduct and experiment where I took 10 random photos from the website of the Los Angeles Times and tried to see how many categories of the hierarchy each one of them fulfilled.

Each of the 10 featured photos were on the newspaper’s website on October 4, 2011 and they cover a wide range of news topics including local, crime, world, business and sports. The photos include headlines and captions but I am solely judging them based on the photograph itself.

BY TONY GUTIERREZ

 

1. I don’t necessarily think that this photograph is informational. As a viewer I can definitely tell that it is an area that is in desperate need of water but that’s about all I can tell. I don’t know who, what, when, where or why and I definitely don’t know how. This photo does have graphic appeal, it is shot from a cool angle and the dried out ground makes for an interesting pattern. Also, it does employ the rule of thirds. To me this photo isn’t emotional or intimate. I can’t seen the one subject’s face, so no emotion is present and I don’t wonder how the photographer got access to this location, so it’s not intimate.

BY KEVORK DJANSEZIAN

2. This has to be one of the worst news photographs I have ever seen. In truth though, it is slightly informational because the viewer has to assume this story has something to do with the Fullerton Police Department. It does not have graphic appeal in my opinion, in fact this straight on and centered shot is kind of boring. There aren’t any people fully represented in the frame, so it is neither emotional nor intimate. I believe that photographs that do not feature human beings or animals can still be emotional and intimate but this is not one of those photographs. It looks like a stock photo.

BY DAVID PIERSON

3. This picture is informational to a degree because it appears to be about cell phones. The way in which the featured subject is showing off the cell phone indicates that it is important. It has some graphic appeal because the lit up cell phone cases are interesting and different. Unfortunately, the yellow-shirted man in the background distracted me from the center of the photograph. There is a slight look of curiosity or intrigue on the main subject’s face and I would count this as emotion. There is a lack of intimacy. Personally, I haven’t seen many technology photographs that feature intimacy.

BY JUSTIN SULLIVAN

4. This photograph presents more information than the three previous photographs combined. The visible signage helps show the viewer that this is some type of rally or protest in favor of Medi-Cal and Medicaid. Also, a government building is visible in the background. This photo doesn’t have a lot of graphic appeal because a more decisive moment could have been found and not all featured faces are larger than a dime. The disabled individuals shown in this photo make me feel emotion, so it’s successful on that front. These people look like they are struggling physically and that this rally is important to them because they need healthcare in their daily lives. It doesn’t go all the way to intimacy, the camera is not close enough to the action and I don’t believe I am looking at a private moment.

BY JEFF CHIU

5. Immediately I look at this photograph and I am bored. Many photos of sports are interesting because they contain action and vibrancy. Sadly, this photo contains neither. I am a baseball fan and I previously lived in Los Angeles, therefore I know right away the main piece of information that is contained in this photo. It’s that this story has something to do with the Anaheim Angels and most likely it has to do with management because their coach is on the left. Honestly, it doesn’t have a whole lot of graphic appeal. The color red is nice and adds something to the overall look but its composition is average. It doesn’t contain emotional aspects or even a tiny bit of intimacy. It looks simply like two guys having a routine discussion and it is something that any photojournalist could have captured.

BY GINA FERAZZI

6. The information that I am gleaning from this photograph is that some kind of crime was committed, this is apparent by the use of police tape and that the cops appear to be looking at photographs of possible suspects. I truly can’t tell what kind of crime was committed, who was involved or where it happened. Majority of the who, what, where, when and why questions go answered with this photograph. The photo does offer some graphic appeal, the police officers represent the first-third of the photograph in the rule-of-thirds and the police tape creates interesting radii that control the viewer’s eye. There is also some visible emotion in this photo; the female police officer is obviously having some type of reaction to a certain photograph. It does not cross the line into intimacy though, this is not a private moment and any individual with a camera phone could have taken this photo.

BY SCOTT OLSON

7. This is another poorly utilized photo. I see some sort of power plant and that’s it. I don’t know where it is or what is newsworthy about it. Graphically this is an adequate photograph. The fluffy clouds in the background create nice shapes. Also, there is nice use of soothing color with blue and green featured. I don’t see anything that could be construed as emotional, the plant is not spewing black smoke, it’s not on fire and it doesn’t appear to be leaking. Finally, this is not a close-up; it doesn’t require special access and the photographer simply shot it from across the river. Anyone could have taken this photo, I never once thought about how the photographer got this photo.

BY MICHAEL ROBINSON CHAVEZ

8. I see that this is an airport. That’s the only available information. I don’t know which city this airport is located and this could be any dozen of stories about airline safety, airline food, new planes, airport expansion, etc. It does have graphic appeal. The lines that are created by the windows and the unique colored graphics on the tails of the planes are appealing to look at. Overall, the composition is fairly nice. This photograph is lacking emotion and intimacy. I truly hope this is not an airline safety story because frustration, anger and fear are not represented in this photo.

BY KEVORK DJANSEZIAN

9. With regards to my former life in Los Angeles, I recognize this man as the current mayor of LA. His name is Antonio Villaraigosa and he is a very controversial figure there. I can’t tell the purpose of this story based on this closely cropped photo. He is not shown doing anything. It’s a standard headshot and doesn’t have much graphic appeal because it’s something I’ve seen thousands of times. The Mayor doesn’t look very emotional and even though this is a close-up, I’m not feeling intimacy. The Mayor attends dozens of public events every week, so this could have been shot by anyone at any time.

BY UNKNOWN

10. From what I can see, this looks like dead bodies being carried in coffins in a middle-eastern country. It doesn’t have a ton of graphic appeal; in fact it’s rather ordinary looking. Most of the faces in this photo are blurry too. The coffins and the masses that came out to see these people brought to their final resting place adds some emotion but it’s diffused by this being a long shot. It doesn’t hit me in the gut and I can’t tell what the photographer was feeling when he or she took this picture. Also, it’s too far away to be intimate. It looks like it was shot from a position (up on a fence or hill) that a lot of people would have access to.

 

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Style (and Substance?) in the Photos of David LaChapelle

I think that the photos of David LaChapelle fit perfectly with the discussion we had in class about “style.” His personal style is one of gloss, color and celebrity. All of his pictures look expensive in the sense that they appear to represent high production value in the form of costly lighting, make-up, costumes and props. His photos also fulfill the three components of style as talked about in our class: visual, subject matter and message or goal.  Below are the 10 photos of his that I feel best represent his unique and artistic style.

MATT DILLON

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

 

This photograph of the actor Matt Dillon perfectly demonstrates LaChappelle’s personal style. His visuals are represented by the photo’s slick, colorful look with lots of studio lighting. His subject matter is represented simply by this being a photograph of a celebrity in an odd setting. LaChapelle is known for his penchant to surround actors and musicians with lots of bizarre props. Finally, his goal is represented by the fact that this is a high-quality image that could run in a magazine like Rolling Stone. Personally, I am most drawn to the portion of the photo that shows his face reflected in the glass of water.

ELTON JOHN

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

 

I specifically love this photo of Elton John because it is so over top. Part of LaChapelle’s aesthetic is cartoony or surreal. This is especially true of this picture of Elton John; he looks like a bizarre cartoon character that is living inside a Tim Burton film. The final thing I noticed about this photo is that LaChapelle might be sending a comical message with regards to Elton John’s personal style. John’s fans are used to seeing him in crazy get-ups, in fact it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a suit that was covered in the same bananas and cherries that make the background. Instead, LaChapelle dresses him in a plain white suit and lets the craziness that surrounds him speak for itself.

MADONNA

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

I love this photo of Madonna. Here she is actually quite subdued and it’s the technical effects, in this case the light-crown that leaves a cool looking trail, that capture the attention of the audience. It’s possible that one aspect of LaChapelle’s style is that he likes to play with the pre-conceived notions that people have about celebrities like Madonna or Elton John. It might be the message that he is trying to send but I think it is one that is hard for most people to pick up on because his images are so produced. LaChapelle might be sending a message through his photography but in my opinion it’s getting lost behind all the pomp and circumstance.

EWAN MCGREGOR

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

I think that this image of actor Ewan McGregor is quite fun and playful. It actually shows a different but positive side to LaChapelle’s work. Part of his style is tied to the numerous creative thoughts that must flood his brain on a daily basis. This picture represents LaChapelle’s preference for bright Hollywood lighting but it isn’t as glossy as some of the previous pictures. In my opinion, it’s supposed to be a scary scene with a hard partying woman pulling a gun on a bloody man but the doll and its accessories make it so absurd that it becomes silly.

LADY GAGA

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

 

This picture of Lady Gaga shows the side of LaChapelle that likes to push the envelope. Lady Gaga is already a character/entertainer that shocks people with her attitude and crazy outfits but LaChapelle took her image to the next level. Unfortunately, LaChapelle’s next level is usually a sexy naked woman. I personally don’t have a problem with sex or nudity in art but it gets old when someone like LaChapelle uses it as a crutch. It might have actually been more shocking or attention getting if he had used his creativity to show Lady Gaga as she is never seen, without make-up and wearing a conservative outfit.

GISELE BUNDCHEN

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

This photograph of supermodel Gisele Bundchen is interesting but I think that LaChapelle is trying to promote a blantant message here; one of eating disorders as represented by the diet pills and fat burners on the bathroom counter. Also, the model’s sexy black lingerie doesn’t necessarily fit the setting. She looks like she is from a more recent era and that frumpy bathroom appears to be a relic from the 1980s. The use of the mirror to create a repeating image is a nice touch though.

ANGELINA JOLIE

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

LaChapelle is capable of using his style to enhance photographs that don’t have high production value, as seen in this more simple shot of Angelina Jolie. It’s basic in its look but LaChapelle’s style is still all over it. Jolie’s straight-on gaze is very sexual in nature and this doesn’t appear to natural lighting but instead appears to be manipulated with bright filler lights. LaChapelle’s love of color saturation is visible here in the vibrant green that is the grass. LaChapelle highlighted the color and length of the grass in such a positive way that I wanted to lie down in it myself when first looking at this photo.

KYLIE MINOGUE

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

This is an interesting picture of British singer Kylie Minogue because LaChapelle’s love for high-key lighting displays itself, even at dusk. Minogue is also made-up to be much younger than she is in real life. This is another one of LaChapelle’s trademarks that I don’t know how to interpret. He has a habit of dressing up grown women as underage sexpots. I’m actually not sure what to think of this aspect of LaChapelle’s aesthetic, if his photos should just be taken in jest or if there is a genuine lack of substance and content to his work.

KIRSTEN DUNST

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

I’ve noticed that a lot of LaChapelle’s photos show one of two emotions: sexual desire or a complete lack of emotion. In my opinion, this photo of actress Kirsten Dunst fits into the latter category. She’s definitely beautiful and well groomed but this photo isn’t that interesting. Dunst’s lack of emotions in the eyes, whether intentional or not, is actually quite unnerving. There is something off about this photo and it might be that LaChapelle’s style extends to the feeling that the viewer gets while looking at it.

MODEL

BY DAVID LACHAPELLE

 

This photo is an example of one of LaChapelle’s more high-fashion shoots. His style suits this type of photography well because the clothes and model are lit nicely and look quite glossy. Also, LaChapelle manages to make the dress one of the focal points of the image. The colors of the hedges and the contrasting pathways play off each other nicely but don’t fully detract from the model and what she is wearing. In my opinion this is one of LaChapelle’s more visually interesting pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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