The Constructed Moment

This blog discusses the way in which we design, make, select, evaluate and publish fashion and advertisement photographies as a sub-genre. This is a place of reflection. We have no unveiled truths, yet we are seeking answers.

sábado, 31 de mayo de 2014

Two Tales in One

Texto en español, aqui.

“As an addict to white backgrounds as I am, I find it bizarre that a gray background is never described as empty. It is hard to avoid that the graphic elements take control when using a white background. It is very difficult to give emotional content to something so intensely graphic and potentially cartoony that is overpowered by the rigid background; that is why its importance and the challenge it presents.”
— Richard Avedon 

“Sacred cows make out the best burgers”.
 — Rober Kriegel, David Brandt 

Much has been said about fashion editorials: they present trends, their origin goes back to photojournalism used as news photography in magazines such as Vu or Life, which are a means of expression for designers, stylists, make-up artists and photographers. In the same way, we talk about a minimum of pages, never less than 6 and 10 in average, without being obliged to stick to that number.

It is also clear that an editorial is not a collection of pictures about the same garment, and I wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention because in the past few days, as I was checking up sites where they receive editorials to publish, it caught my attention that many of them had notes about this, which got me to think that it is a common mistake they see in the material they receive for their consideration.

The fact that editorials present a trend sounds to me right in a general way, however, in a way, I think an editorial speaks about a series of garments put together by a common theme; trends can be the most recurrent of concepts but it can also be designers, a specific type of attire or silhouette, an everyday situation or any other concept that a fashion editor considers valid and communicable to put together.

Another thing that I consider is clear is that a fashion editorial or a history of fashion, the name you want to give it doesn’t matter, is the number one piece in the union of photography and fashion, or better put, of fashion photography. It is because of the abovementioned that a big part of the history of fashion has been taken into consideration from the photos published as magazine editorials and the photos that have been used as advertising get less attention.

Speaking of the photographic content, an editorial is, without a doubt, the format in which the style of photographers is best shown. They are the most creative and also the most repetitive; we have to say it, sometimes, at least in the photographic sense, you have seen every photographer in the world after seeing one or two of their editorials. We also have to say that not every photographer responds to a defined style when it comes to making their editorials, Patrick Demarchelier is an example of this. In his perfect way of executing and his conservative elements within fashion photography, he doesn’t have a degree of definition that would allow people to identify him in the same way people can identify some of his colleagues.

An editorial doesn’t only answer to the photographer’s aesthetic needs. It mainly responds to the needs of the means that publishes it. This is a line that is harder to perceive since it conveys different elements of photographic style, and styling besides having a limited access to rejected material and the reasons for not being published. A couple of examples of these are the documentary September Issue in the Unseen Vogue book.

An editorial converges not only a vision of fashion and a need for communication, but also a vision of what is photographic. These three elements come together to make an editorial come to life.

What is interesting about what I just mentioned is that if the first two elements are clear, the third can be handled freely; which means that it can work on any photographic concept without being unarticulated and it allows their development. This is why the language of photography has been able to evolve so freely. If we take a look at the photos that fashion photography has given us and keeping into consideration that the need for communication has evolved very little, we can see that apart from fashion itself —garments, make up, hair styles and even poses— the other big evolution is in the photographic sense; in the way of telling a story, its visual resources, its different contexts and its structure.

Just to be clear here, fashion history isn’t obliged to have a narrative per sei as its name suggests. It does tell a story but it’s not a story telling of facts, which is valid to use, but is not found very often. There’s always a conducting thread, well, there are two actually, fashion and photography, which is in most cases, an aesthetic proposal.

Let’s analyze the use of space. I have always found it particular that nobody complains about how repetitive space can become in photos taken in a studio. The same background doesn’t seem to bother anyone and becomes an attractive element instead, which makes relevant the quote by Richard Avedon that I used to start this entry a valid reflection.

However, when a real space becomes repetitive in several photographs, there’s always someone that thinks that the editorial lacks structure. And when you expresses the intention of making an editorial in two spaces that won’t necessary have a common theme, then you’re told that it cannot be done, as if the only option to make use of space within a photographic production and specifically in an editorial, means to go around in the location looking for different angles.
Well, today I want to bring to your attention two editorials (see below [1]). My purpose is to demonstrate that the aforementioned is indeed possible and to make a stronger statement, both are part of the Spanish Vogue Magazine from March 2014. Take a look at how not only the solution of space repeats itself, but also how the other space shares the story. In the White Masai, color is assigned to one of the spaces and black and white is assigned to the other. This isn’t mandatory as we can see in the other editorial in which it simply doesn’t take place. In the same way, the space of the window is repetitive and it’s not bad whatsoever.

And this is a must: since it is Vogue the one publishing it, it is now a legitimate solution.

May this be the moment to remind everybody that fashion photography has art as one of its inspiring sources and current art is about repetition; it repeats its ways relentlessly, or to the point where you can’t take it anymore. It’s your choice.

[1] I publish here the two editorials I mentioned. They are distributed in the same way as in the magazine, which I think is also important.

Photographer: Cuneyt Akeroglu

Stylist: Belén Antolín
Hair: Angelo Seminara
Make-up: Lisa Aldridge
Model: Arizona Muse






Photographer: Miguel Reveriego

Stylist: Belén Antolín
Hair: Tamara MacNaughton
Make-up: Serge Hodonou
Model: Jessica Miller


Dos cuentos en uno.

Text in english, here

“Como adicto a los fondos blancos, me resulta extraño que un fondo gris nunca sea descrito como un fondo vacío, con un fondo blanco es muy difícil evitar que los elementos gráficos tomen el control. Es muy difícil dar un contenido emocional a algo tan completamente gráfico y potencialmente caricaturesco, dominado por el fondo rígido, y ahí reside desde luego su importancia y el desafío que supone.”
— Richard Avedon

“De las vacas sagradas se hacen las mejores hamburguesas”
— Rober Kriegel – David Brand —

Mucho se ha dicho sobre los editoriales de moda: que ilustran la tendencia, que su origen esta en las historias de foto reportaje que se utilizo para la imagen periodística en revistas como Vu o Life, que son un medio de expresión de diseñadores, estilistas, maquilladores y fotógrafos. Así mismo se habla del mínimo de páginas que por lo que he visto nunca es inferior a 6 y generalmente es en promedio de 10 páginas, sin estar obligado a detenerse en ese número.

Es claro también que no es una colección de fotos acerca de la misma prenda, lo menciono debido a que en estos días revisando sitios donde reciben editoriales para publicar me llamo la atención que en varios repetían anotaciones al respecto, por lo que supongo que es un error frecuente en el material que les presentan a su consideración.

Que ilustran la tendencia me parece una generalización acertada, pero en realidad creo que un editorial habla de una serie de prendas reunidas para tal fin a partir de un hilo conductor, siendo la tendencia el concepto mas recurrente, pero puede ser también a partir de un diseñador, un tipo de prenda o silueta, una situación de uso o cualquier otro concepto que un editor de moda considere valido y comunicable para agrupar las prendas.

Lo otro que considero claro es que un editorial de moda o una historia de moda, como quieran llamarla, es la pieza máxima de la unión de la fotografía y la moda, o mejor dicho de la fotografía de moda. Es por lo anterior que gran parte de la historia de la fotografía de moda se cuenta a partir de las imágenes publicadas como editoriales de revistas y menos atención se presta a las imágenes que han sido utilizadas publicitariamente.

Hablando de lo fotográfico es claro que el editorial es el formato donde se manifiesta de manera más clara el estilo de los fotógrafos, de los más creativos y los más repetitivos también, ya que toca decirlo: a veces con un par de editoriales de un fotógrafo ya se han visto todos, al menos respecto a lo fotográfico. También es claro que no todos los fotógrafos responden a un estilo definido a la hora de realizar sus editoriales, pongo por ejemplo el trabajo de Patrick Demarchelier el cual fuera de su perfecta ejecución y lineamientos conservadores dentro de al fotografía de moda, no tiene un grado de definición tal que permita identificarlo como si sucede con el de algunos de sus colegas.

Mas el editorial no solo responde a las necesidades estéticas de los fotógrafos, lo hace principalmente a las necesidades del medio que lo pública, esta línea es más difícil de percibir ya que en ella se conjugan múltiples estilos gráficos, fotográficos y de estilismo o styling además de tener limitado acceso al material rechazado y las razones de su no publicación. Un par de ejemplos al respecto son el documental September issue y el libro unseen vogue.

En el editorial confluyen no solo una visión de la moda, una necesidad de comunicación sino también una visión de lo fotográfico. Esos tres elementos se unen para dar vida a un editorial.

Lo interesante de lo anterior es que si los dos primeros asuntos son claros el tercero pude ser muy libre, lo que no significa desarticulado sino que puede funcionar sobre cualquier concepto fotográfico que permita desarrollar los dos primeros aspectos. Es por esa razón que el lenguaje de la fotografía de moda ha podido evolucionar tan libremente: si miramos con detalle las imágenes que la historia de la fotografía de moda nos muestra y partiendo del hecho que la necesidad de comunicación poco ha evolucionado, veremos que dejando la moda de lado — prendas, maquillajes peinados e incluyamos poses — la otra gran evolución esta en lo fotográfico, en la manera de contar la historia, sus recursos visuales, en sus diferentes contextos y en su estructura. Es de aclarar que la historia de moda no esta obligada a tener una narrativa como su nombre historia sugiere, cuenta algo pero no es una narrativa de hechos, esta solución aunque valida no es la más frecuente. Pero es claro que tienen un hilo conductor, en realidad mínimo dos el de la moda y el fotográfico el cual en la mayoría de los casos es una propuesta estética.

Analicemos por ejemplo el manejo del espacio, siempre me ha parecido muy particular que nadie se queje de lo repetido que puede ser el espacio en las fotos en estudio, el mismo fondo a nadie parece molestar, es mas se vuelve una elemento atractivo, y en ese sentido la cita de Richard Avedon con la que abro esta entrada es una reflexión valida al respecto. 
Pero cuando un espacio real se repite en varias fotos no falta el que cree que el editorial esta des-estructurado, o cuando uno manifiesta la intención de realizar un editorial en dos espacios, que no necesariamente tengan un hilo conductor, te manifiestan que eso no se puede hacer. Como si la única opción de uso de un espacio en una producción fotográfica y en un editorial específicamente, significara pasear por toda la locación buscando ángulos diferentes.

Pues bien, traigo dos editoriales (ver abajo[1]) para demostrar que, lo anterior es posible, y para más contundencia los dos en la misma Vogue, la española del mes de marzo de este año. Miren como no solo se repite la solución de estudio sino también el otro espacio que comparte la historia, como en LA MASAI BLANCA el color se le asigna a uno de los espacios y el blanco y negro al otro, lo que tampoco es obligatorio  ya que observamos que en el otro editorial no sucede, así mismo el espacio de la ventana es repetitivo, y no esta para nada mal. 
Y toca agregar: como Vogue ya lo publica, desde ahora dicha solución es legitima.

Sea el momento de recordar que la fotografía de moda tiene como una de sus fuentes de inspiración el arte y el arte actual habla de la repetición, repite sus formas sin cansancio, o hasta el hastío; usted decide.

[1] Publico aquí los dos editoriales en cuestión, distribuidos de igual forma que en la revista, asunto que también es importante.

Photographer: Cuneyt Akeroglu
Stylist: Belén Antolín
Hair: Angelo Seminara
Make-up: Lisa Aldridge
Model: Arizona Muse






Photographer: Miguel Reveriego
Stylist: Belén Antolín
Hair: Tamara MacNaughton
Make-up: Serge Hodonou
Model: Jessica Miller


jueves, 15 de mayo de 2014

It Could Be A Campaign Photograph.

Texto en español, aqui

 “My relationships with producers or photographers, these are relationships that took years.”
— Alexander McQueen —

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

— Karl Lagerfeld — 

Since I’m not like many people in the industry, always avidly looking for the latest news on designers and their collections, there are things that take me by surprise sometimes. My thing is more on the photographic side, and yet, I’m not in one of those times of relentless searching in order to get to know new photographers and their works.

In other words: since I keep myself uninformed, or better yet, I’ve been more focused on text than images lately, there are things that take me aback, for instance: the pictures taken at the very polemic Channel’s runway on a supermarket. I must confess that after seeing its first images on the World Wide Web, I thought they belonged to their latest advertising campaign and not their latest runway. That’s not all, though: I must also confess that I loved those shoots from that very moment. (I’ve loved them so much that even though the event took place weeks ago and is no longer news worth telling, I think reflecting on it is still valid).

After realizing what the pictures were about, my admiration stirred towards a new kind: it is one of the best settings in runaways that I have seen lately, and I don’t mean budget-wise, I mean, it is almost unlimited and it shows not only in the wonderful way the shelves were stocked, but mostly on how they worked out the room; it allowed photographers and cameramen to take shots that were so good that were, in more than one occasion actually, better than those we get to see in different campaigns for fashion brands.

I must clarify that I’m not saying that runway pictures should be used as campaign pictures, although after seeing the quality of some of them, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

The point here for me, is to reflect on the commitment some of the organizers of a runway have in terms of increasing the possibilities for photographers and cameramen of making good images. I think, without a doubt, a runway is an event for the press and the main buyers. However, and this is something not everybody understands, a runaway is not only for the benefit of public relations with the media moguls sitting on the first row; it is also of great importance for the communication that one hopes to achieve. The quality of the photographs taken will be accompanied by the opinions of the fashion editors attending the event. We talked about something similar in a different entry on the blog: the low quality in photographs taken from the first row during a runway. (Link)

I’m sure there are events that will be advertised no matter the quality of the material they are launching. However, not all events qualify to be the exception; and, in many ways, the players within such runaway production will be, without a doubt, hoping to be outstanding and use the media on their favor; and yet, they will need great quality photographs of their event so that it is indeed superior to the media.
One thing is certain; a unique event developed from its early stages in a space and with a production like Channel and other major fashion houses have done differs from event in which everything happens in the same runway, an example of those would be our own runways in Colombiamoda.

Bottom line, the reflection is the same and it’s not new to this blog: sometimes I believe, and I have some first hand information on it by being around such events occasionally, that the runway organizers work under the logic that every person on the press booth is obliged to take the pictures and editors are to publish them as if there weren’t any technical and aesthetic standards to uphold and offer. I usually tell my students on this matter that it’s not the same being chosen by the local media for whom an event is mandatory news as it is being part of the international press, which has the entire world with material available to cover.

To finish, I leave for you, images from another runway, this one from Alexander McQueen F/W 2014 in which the photographs could also be used as a campaign image. At least they are better built than other constructed for this end.

At the end, I don’t it is a coincidence: both brands have an evident culture and great knowledge of how a photographic image works.