From the Real to the Created:
A comparison of the traditional portrait vs the fashion shot.
As I was pondering ideas to write on my blog, I came across the topic of the traditional portraiture vs the fashion shot. Though they might seem similar, each of them has their own distinct qualities and objectives. To explain this, I shall start with the traditional portrait.
What is a Portrait? Where did portraiture come from? Well my fellow fashion and photography colleagues, here´s a bit of Photography History for you! Portraiture in photography takes a lot from traditional painting portraiture. Composition, and the use of light are principals that both arts share equally. A portrait is a visual representation of a person and it can be done in many ways! It can either be drawn, etched, painted or photographed. Regardless of the medium, a portrait is always made with one main idea: the idea of depicting the individual. Think of your self. How would you describe your self? Are you serious? Joyous? Is your style elegant or more casual? Are you trendy or more hipster? A portrait is a way of showing others how you are or at least how you want to picture your self to others. As they say: “ A picture tells more than a thousand words”. Now, my question is: what are those words saying?
In one of my master classes about Art and Ideology, we discussed the ideas of Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. One of the things Bakhtin proposed was the “Tripartite Identity”. This tripartite is composed by: the center (the self), the of-center (the other) and the relationship between the center and the of-center (in other words, the individuals relation with its surrounding). In order to generate or create an individuals identity we need to analyze all these three concepts in unison to determine who, what and how an individual may be. A portrait may have a mood, and certain aesthetic but in the end, a portrait is all about the individual. It´s about you, about me, it´s about each and everyone of us.
But what about a fashion shot? Doesn´t convey an identity? The answer is yes! A fashion shot always has a main objective. For instance, a catalogue photo that you see for a department store is intended to sell you the fashions that are depicted. Let it be a casual look in spring or a chic and trendy style for fall. Fashion is a consumer driven industry that evolves around the idea of selling you a look, a mood, an identity that you then feel fits you. See how the wheels are turning? A fashion shot is commercial driven, a portrait is not. So for you my lovely photographers and fashion lovers, this is the main difference. It´s like Tula’s dad on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” said at the reception: “We’ve got apples and we’ve got oranges. But in the end we’re all fruit!”
( Left- THE FASHION SHOT )