Friday, February 18, 2011

Photos This Week: Irina Shayk, Oscar Portraits, and that weirdly troublesome iPhone Hipstamatic iPhone app

You can see my entire weekly roundup of photos at Le Lettre, but here are some that, in one way or another, sum up the visual culture of the moment

1. Irina Shayk vs. Depression

  No matter what the score, when the Super Bowl clicks down to the final minute I start wondering which international supermodel will be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That's not really true, but you get the idea: After the big finale of the NFL season, there's not much for sports fans to look foward to...until the NCAA's March Madness tournament. That's a whole month of depression...especially for New York Mets fans, who can't really take much joy as the prospect of pitchers and catchers showing up for spring training. So there is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. And this year the issue has Russian model Irina Shayk on the cover. She was photographed for this year's issue by the very creative Raphael Mazzuco Bjorn Iooss. Now, of course, the annual issue is a multi-media franchise, and you can go online and watch video clips. But now that the imagery is so available, is the cover still the event it used to be? Below is another Shayk shot.

2. Oscar vs. Glamour

 Gone, gone, gone are the days of haute Hollywood glamour. The evidence was laid out plainly in magazines during the February media build-up to the Oscar show on February 27. Once, the Hollywood portrait absolutely demanded dramatic lighting and lavish hair, makeup, and wardrobe styling. But that was back when there were screen idols and audiences willing to suspend their disbelief and accept the idea that there were heroes among us, and that those heroes dressed well and looked perfect. No more. For it's annual "Hollywood Portfolio," Vanity Fair led with a very dressed-down portrait of the three guys who made The Social Network so great: director David Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and actor Jesse Eisenberg. What is the message in this vanilla-flavored photo? That blue jeans are inherently more "real" than suits and ties? In classic Hollywood images, if you couldn't achieve glamour, you had to at least go with humor. The neo-classical photos by Herb Ritts also substituted really hot sexiness for glamour. I am not sure that realism is really that interesting.

 Here's another shot from the Vanity Fair portfolio. Here, British photographer Rankin gives actor Colin Firth the glamour treatment--the lighting and clothes and all--but it's a post-modern glamour that we're supposed to laugh at rather than buy into.

And here's a shot of Jesse Eisenberg, by Peter Hapak, from Time magazine. There isn't much interpretation here--just the actor in character in character as Mark Zuckerberg. 

3. Hipstamatic vs. Photojournalism

February is also when the year's major photography awards start getting handed out. One award has already caused a fairly high degree of anxiety: New York Times photographer Damon Winter won third place for feature picture story from Picture of the Year International for images he made while covering the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Did I mention that he made them on his iPhone, with that intriguing Hipstamatic app, which automatically adjusts color and contrast while burning in certain areas within the frame. What does it mean when pro photographers use apps like this? Was it fair that they won an award? Was it right? Does the award mark the end of photojournalism, as one troubled observer put it? (Michael Shaw has a nice discussion about the issue on Bag News Notes.) Winter defended the images on the Time's "Lens" blog, saying the app applied the same kinds of aesthetics that photographers do when they shoot with professional cameras. Your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment