Elliott Brown Jr.
Professor Deborah Willis
Culture, History, Imaging, and Photography Studies
December 6, 2011
Model as a Muse
In my short career as a conscious photographer, which stems back to my junior year of high school, I have noticed a decisive pattern in my selection of models for my photographs, which lend their selves to fashion specifically, or at least attempt to. While I have not yet developed a particular favor for the aesthetic of one model over the next, it is my experience that the best models, the most responsive, self-aware, intelligent models, are the ones in which I was able to fall in love with. My models usually being women, I could not photograph her if I ...view middle of the document...
Moreover, fashion photography is frequently rivaled against more conceptual forms of photography, as the general consensus regarding the genre is that it acts as an exhibition for the work of the designers, the clothes, more so than it does the skill of the photographer. However, despite how demeaning this opinion becomes to fashion photography, “fashion aims to create its own world, a haven of glossy artifice in an otherwise matte existence [and, arguably] photography is all artifice, a collapsing of three dimensions into two. [Thus] who can deny they were made for each other,” (Feeney). Furthermore, it is just as disputable that fashion photography takes more of an interest in the lifestyle and possible narratives that the model and clothing create, therefore lending itself more to the social implications of the photographer’s artistry. Take for instance the emergence of Kate Moss, as precedented by Moss’ career-starting photographs (Fig. 1) in 1990, taken by emerging photographer Corinne Day for a spread titled “The Third Summer of Love” in the British magazine, The Face. Appearing in an astonishingly raw style, (the brand under which the clothes are made not even mentioned in the captions of the photographs), Moss pioneered the “repudiation of the physical ideals of the models in supremacy.” With the help of Corinne Day, who was interested in photographing fashion in a way that defied the “staling” elegance of the time, and other subsequent photographers, Moss, armed with her “edgy, street-influenced style”, was not only able to redefine the way the general public looked at women in images, but also the way in which designers looked at their own work. Therefore, the art of fashion photography extends to include, in addition to the designer, the thorough embrace shared between the model and photographer, ultimately fulfilling, alongside its commercial practice, both a psychological and aesthetic purpose.
While art and fashion may very well be described as beautiful, its physical attractiveness must not reign at the core of it’s being, unless of course it somehow contributes to the depth of the piece. In her performance piece “Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful”, Marina Abramović, a New York-based, Serbian performance artist, eerily chants the title of the work until she has destroyed her thick, black hair with a metal brush and comb and has exhausted her body by dancing, au naturel, and screaming. Through this performance, she insists that art must not concern itself with something as menial as being beautiful or not beautiful, as art, in this manner, is superficial and unsubstantiated. She instead asserts that art must be disturbing in the sense that it provokes further questioning and engages one in a conversation with others and his own mind. Art must be true, she says, which suggests that art must be based off of one’s own experiences and not the “pretense” of beauty. And, lastly, art must be a prediction of the future,...