1930 and Thriving
After spotting a portrait of pre-war prime minister Neville Chamberlain, I noticed how different the approach to portraits once was. His face was very nearly full to camera but with a flattering high angle. Most interestingly the eye line looked off into the distance, an affectation of the time – today subjects always expect to look down the lens. It gave me the idea to photograph everyday people in that very careful style and see what emerged. Neville Chamberlain would not have been be a good place to begin stylistically for a portrait of a woman; so I shortly found one of Ginger Rogers, head turned across her shoulders, face pointed up into the light, again with eyes off camera.
The outcome? The poses, though 80 years old, ARE flattering. And though I expected that this old school eye line would result in a more insincere picture, I feel now that the reverse was true. I’ve often wondered if a look to camera forces a person into trying to present themselves; without that, it’s easier for them to just be.
A good learning experience.