the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

February 12, 2011

Naked women and hidden agendas

Filed under: outdoors, photography — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 2:41 pm

Choosing between the distraction of a semi naked girl or one of your own images blown up 10 m high, is just one of those decisions pro photographers have to make from time to time. I know what you’re thinking  -tough life-  but there are few things to boost an ego, and perhaps tickle professional pride, as seeing your lenswork blown up larger than life, and trade shows like the recent ISPO in Munich last week was one of those chances for me to see what some of last years clients have done with the images I shot for them.

My shot on the Jones Snowboards 2011 catalogue cover: when you consider how many 'gnarl factor' images Jeremy Jones had to choose from when considering his 2011 catalogue cover, is it surprising to see he went for one that any snowboarder could relate to?Just two mates having fun, and not a bikini babe in sight (or maybe they were still in the tent brewing tea and trying to keep warm). Canon EOS 1DmkIII, 70-200 4L.

But a stroll around such outdoor sport trade shows is more than a letch-fest or an ego boost, and from the photographer’s point of view can become a study of the very varied take on photography that marketing types have. I lost count of the large brands’ show booths that were, and not to beat about the bush about this, severely lacking in any imagery that even hinted at real style or credibility, perhaps as a result of  having redeployed some studio-based fashion photographer to the great outdoors to cater for their photo needs. Okay, that’s their prerogative maybe  -to prefer cliched, cheesey images of models standing gormlessly on sunbathed mountainsides a stone’s throw from the ski lift-  over real aspirational photography. But that’s just my take on it.

Once upon a time I might have been almost bitter about this kind of thing, wondering why clients wouldn’t come flocking to my door, cheque books in hand. But I know the outdoor market comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours. Of course I know that every brand has a ‘unique’ image they want to convey, and many of these images, at least when it comes to ‘big mainstream brands’ are decided from art-director meetings, often by people whose own outdoor experiences consist of walking from the car park to the gym for the Thursday evening spin session. And  I know not every mainstream brand wants to perhaps alienate its market by showing something with too much “gnarl” factor. So now I just smile and move on, weaving between the cookie-cutter stamped identities of wandering snowboarders, sliding effortlessly through the ‘oh so technical’ flavour of the ski hall and dodge the randomly dispersed semi-naked women employed as testosterone magnets to certain brand’s booths. I know the world is largely run by idiots and that I have my part to play in ridding this idiocy from our outdoor environment. It is a struggle worth participating in. Unite comrades! We have nothing to lose but our badly performing outer layers.

Oh, that and the opportunity to be surrounded by smiling, scantily clad womenfolk handing out flyers, I guess.

(OK, don’t take all this too seriously)

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