Attention: Posing is dead. Or not?
Just a little while back, I read a post championing the end of posing.
Why you might ask?
What it came down to was the fact that posing is self-serving. It’s basically bait for likes. A flimsy form of self-validation, where we, as photographers, do nothing but satisfy our egos and further our art at the expense of the client.
And I won’t say that it’s never true.
And I won’t say that there’s any shortage of self-absorbed people (though, aren’t we all in some way or another?).
But as much as I’m all for serving the client, it makes me think about one of my favorite two quotes in the world…
It comes from Frank Capra, who directed It’s a Wonderful Life:
“I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.”
And that’s really the thing, right there.
See, the whole idea of making posing the straw man for self-inflated vanity misses the whole point of any art and any communication.
(Not to mention there’s plenty of self-inflated, unposed photography out there.)
Art isn’t about showing your chops in the first place.
Meaning is inside of us. It’s not about the how we do things. It’s why we do things.
Look at Avedon. He took full, exacting control of his shoots.
And they were deeply personal.
But they were revealing as fuck. He brought something communicative and valuable and beautiful to the world. It’s not a binary, where it’s either about you or it’s about them. It has to be about both.
And whether you do it by posing or not, that’s not the key.
You can’t just boil it down and say art is ego, and ego is bad, therefore we shouldn’t do it. It decimates the complexity that makes creating so meaningful. In fact, truth is, even for more practical matters, like running a business or doing your marketing, that type of simplification shortchanges things.
You get in what you put out.
And others get what you put in.
Because if the premise is that art can only be self-serving, then my thought isn’t that pursuing art is the mistake. It’s that you need to reconsider what your art means to you.