The Eyes Have It

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“The Abandonment of Classic Portraiture Principals in Modern Social Media Imagery”
One of the criticisms leveled against Glamor Photography in Men’s Magazines for decades has been that it dehumanizes women and objectifies them in a purely sexual manner. Until fairly recently, I have rejected that assertion and found the tenets of any number of related arguments to be absolutely baseless in nature. All it takes is to look over the great photographs from the best of Playboy and other fine glamor periodicals over the past fifty years to see that even in full nude imagery, the power and profundity of the emotions on the faces of the models and the energy and intensity of their poses, highlighted by the women’s expressions is the very essence of human experience and beauty. Every conceivable feeling and thought is connoted through the eyes of the female models, the muscles of their faces, the cast of their lips and even the arch of their eye brows tells its own story, allowing the admirer a glimpse into their minds and hearts and creating a distinctly human connection between the model and the person holding the magazine in their hands. This is an artistic inheritance going back to the very earliest of portraiture from the Time of the Ancients, but enshrined forever in style and philosophy by the great portrait painters of the 1700s and 1800s, whose efforts to reach the highest levels of brilliance came to fullest flower. As each generation of artist passed along this legacy to the next, no matter whether styles and schools of thought changed, one of the most important facets of any portrait is to transmit emotion and thought through the face of the model, primarily through the eyes, but also through all the apparatus of the human countenance. And so it has continued as painting gave way to photography as the primary medium through which images of people are captured forever, freezing for a singular instant what the artist and the subject wished to tell of that moment’s tale.
Until now……………………………
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The rise of imagery found on Social Media has licensed people to create a glut of pictures of themselves or of a subject they wish to depict, most of whom have no knowledge of or background in any form of portraiture. And while the vast majority of these personal images are quaint, charming and have some real historical significance in helping document the nature of our times, it is the persons claiming to be photographers and yet lacking in an understanding of the artistic nature of composition that are actually giving fuel to those who would build a larger blaze intended to burn down the façade of glamor imagery. By handing over significant quantities of ammunition to the enemies of glamor through their own selfish pursuits of sexual fetishes, damage has been done to an effort to legitimize glamor photography as its own form of art and expression. The best of examples of this troubling trend are to be found on Instagram.
You can read more of this article in our Jan/Feb 2016 issue of ModelsMania
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