Posts Tagged ‘media’

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The Aerie “Real” No-Photoshop Campaign

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Aerie, a brand of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company targeted at the 15-21 year old female demographic and selling primarily bras and underwear, announced an advertising campaign on Friday in which it is promising to use photographs featuring women without any digital alteration or retouching.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

As a commercial advertising photographer the issue of drastic, severe photo manipulation in advertising and media is one that is of great interest to me (I refer to this manipulation, usually of women and usually to make them appear skinnier and with fewer skin imperfections than in reality [for example, all these], as “photochopping”… as distinguished from the more minor, lightweight “photoshopping” that I do on my images on a regular basis to do things like remove stray hairs, etc.).

There is no question that the imagery we see around us every day affects our perception of reality and our expectations; it is just another example of the old truism that if you tell someone something enough times, eventually they’ll start to believe it. Sadly it appears very clear that when women (especially young women and girls) are constantly shown fictionalized, impossibly-idealized versions of women’s bodies, their expectations of themselves and their own bodies change, even if they are consciously aware that the images are fictionalized. The resulting psychological damage that comes from being unable to attain the bodies women and girls think they should have seems almost inevitable.

That’s why I am so glad when companies pledge to use unmanipulated imagery in their advertising (happily, these campaigns seem to be gaining steam in the U.S., with the most well-known previous example probably being the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign). It’s great to see aerie in particular take the no-fakery pledge because the demographic that brand serves is probably the single most impressionable and susceptible to poor body image and self esteem issues as a result of manipulated advertising.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Looking at the images from the campaign above and below, there are several obvious (to people who do advertising photography for a living, anyway) examples in each image of things that fashion photo editors typically would have altered: a stretch mark here, an uneven skin tone there, a slight skin bulge or crease, etc. But all of these “issues” are very minor. All of the models aerie has featured in these images are beautiful women (who, it bears mentioning, while not digitally manipulated after the photoshoots, were professionally made-up by makeup artists before the shoots and photographed by a talented professional photographer who knows how to make people look good). The women featured in these images, to one degree or another, generally fit into our cultural standard of what would be considered attractive people.

Nevertheless, American Eagle is commendable (and smart) for making this campaign. Each campaign like this helps to both raise awareness that images in the media are often faked and also helps to give women and girls the confidence and self esteem to love their bodies the way they are (the campaign will also earn the brand a fair amount of social responsibility goodwill… so in addition to being a good deed, it is also good business).

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Ultimately though, in my mind, the choice to forego unrealistic (and unhealthy) digital fakery in advertising imagery would ideally not be limited to a single ad campaign, but would be a permanent, industry-wide change. American Eagle has taken the first step in that direction with the #AerieReal campaign; will they lead by example and stand for womens’ and girls’ body image and self esteem and make the change permanent? Or when the media and blogosphere spotlight on the campaign has passed, will American Eagle revert back to using manipulated images? I posed this question to the company’s representatives when they provided me the images above; as of the time this post was published they haven’t responded.

I’ll update this post if they do. Until then, this campaign is at least a good first step in the right direction.

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Posted in News | 1 Comment »

Somerville Fireworks (& The Boston Globe)

Friday, July 1st, 2011

So I walked over to my town’s local fireworks display last night (right around the corner from my house), and just for fun, I carried along a camera and tripod (of course… it’s just who I am). It was crazy – a much bigger production than I’d assumed: all of the streets were blocked off, there were thousands of people in the streets, food trucks, etc etc.:

The crowd for the Somerville fireworks display: iPhone photo ©Chris Conti Photography

No sooner than I had set up my tripod I was approached by a woman who introduced herself as writer for the Boston Globe, asking me who I was there shooting for (in other words, if I worked for another news organization). When I replied that I’m a self-employed photographer and was just there shooting photos for my own amusement, she asked if she could use one of my photos for her Globe article – apparently the Globe “didn’t have budget” to send one of their own photographers to cover the event.

Everyone knows that times are very tough for print media organizations – since everyone is getting their news online, newspapers’ subscriber bases are evaporating and with them go the newspapers’ revenue, which has resulted in terrible staff cuts at just about every paper. But it is a sad state of affairs indeed when a leading regional newspaper “doesn’t have budget” to pay a photojournalist to cover an event on which they plan to publish a story, and this was an example of why I am very, very glad that I am not a photojournalist.

In any case, I was there shooting photos anyway, and since they’d already decided they weren’t going to pay for photography of the event (that much was clear) I told the writer that provided I was given proper credit for the photo, I’d give the Globe one to run with their story*. The writer took my email address, and several hours later via email I sent her a few photos I captured from the evening.

For the Globe’s article, they picked one of the photos I sent, and the writer actually quoted me as well (which I didn’t know she was going to do! If I’d known I was going to be quoted, I’d have paid attention to my grammar!). The article can be seen here: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/somerville/2011/07/somerville_fireworks_light_up.html

Here are a few of the photos I shot that night (it really was a great display, and as Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone was sure to point out, the fireworks didn’t cost taxpayers a dime, since they were funded in full through private donations).

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

*: I understand this issue may anger some professionals in the industry who rely on paying editorial work. The debate about shooting for pay vs. shooting solely for a credit is not an insignificant one, and it is truly embarrassing for the Globe  that they have cut back so dramatically on paying editorial work that they didn’t send a staff photographer or editorial freelancer to shoot something that they thought was important enough to warrant a story. It is a bad time to be an editorial photographer or photojournalist indeed.

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Posted in Equipment, Field Notes, Gear, News, Projects, Techniques, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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