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Saturday, August 02, 2014
By Lance Tilford
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Gotta rant about a few photography trends that have way overstayed their welcome. 


HDR, or High Dynamic Resolution, started in commercial and advertising imagery as a way to make images seem almost hyperreal; high contrast images, often desaturated to emphasize a toughness or grittiness, showed up in images from movie posters to car ads.  Now with most cameras easily creating HDR images, including cel phone camera, HDR is, literally, oversaturated.  These images over-distrot the natural contrast our optical range normally sees, and where it looks great on a picture of a bunch of grizzled old fisherman hauling in a catch, it looks horrible on those senior pictures.  Over-saturated colors, the same few popular Instagram filters, and overuse of HDR have all become so normal that otherwise terrific images now look underexposed or undeveloped.  Take a step back out there!



It seems so titillating (sorry, couldn't help the pun) and daring to go nude in a shoot--and it is. A proper nude shoot can capture boldness, attitude, vulnerability and beauty all at once.  But you don't get to be daring by taking the top off and covering your chest with an arm.  If you're baring it boldy, then BARE it.  Be proud, own it, confidence is the new sexy.  Photographers, be more creative with angles and get great expressions from your models.  Implied nudity can be beautiful, but the arm over the chest tactic is cowardly tease of a cop-out.  It deflates any sense of rebellious attitude. 



The works of Chuck Close and Martin Schoeller are certainly great artistic statements; portraits of celebrities sans makeup or styling, up close and personal, every mole, nose hair and pimple right there to just reach out and touch.  But after looking at counless such images of sports stars, movie stars, financial gurus and even aging models, I realize I don't want to see them so close up anymore. It's not that I want mystery, or don't appreciate the supposed "honesty" of these closeups, or the risk these famous people take with that kind of exposure...seeing them up so close with such high contrast is unrealistic and almost seems an invasion of space.  And I won't argue that this very thing can be the goal of good art.  But it's discomforting, and makes no real statement.  It is almost always done with a blank expression, as if we're seeing them on a morgue slab with eyes open.  Enough already.