Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tina Fey on Posing & Photographer Speak

Tina Fey is definitely one of the funniest people alive. There aren't many men or women who rival her wit and ability to poke fun at herself. Tina Fey and Conan are probably the closest thing we have to a modern day Mark Twain.

In her recently published book "Bossypants," Tina had the following to say about posing for photographs (which I find pretty darn accurate and hilarious) while simultaneously poking fun at the process:

"Posing for a successful glamour portrait is very simple. Start with the basics. Turn sideways. Lean back against a wall. Move your chin forward to elongate your neck. Relax your shoulders. Make angles wherever possible. If you're over twenty-four, smile at all times. Keep your arms slightly away from your sides so as not to smush them and make them look larger. Suck your stomach up and in, and wrap your buttocks toward the back, Pilates-style. Be yourself. When you look into the lens, imagine you are looking at a dear friend, but not a friend who would laugh at you for jutting out your chin while arching your back against a fake wall."

As for dealing with what photographers say during a session, Tina has the following commentary:

"Most photographers have some kind of verbal patter going on when they shoot: 'Great. Turn to me. Big smile. Less shark eyes. Have fun with it. Not like that.'

Some photographers are compulsively effusive. 'Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous! Ugh, so gorgeous!' they yell at shutter speed. If you are anything less than insane, you will realize this is not sincere. It's hard to take because it's more positive feedback than you've received in your entire life thrown at you in fifteen seconds. It would be like going jogging while someone rode next to you in a slow-moving car, yelling, 'Yes! You are Carl Lewis! You're breaking a world record right now. Amazing! You are fast. You're going very fast, yes!'"

As a photographer, it is easy to forget how unnatural and uncomfortable it is for some people to be in front of the lens. And guidelines offered for how to pose are probably kind of odd for the average subject who is not a model by trade. It's not a bad exercise for photographers to step in front of a camera to feel some self-conscious beads of sweat forming once in a while. It'll keep you honest.

As for the goofy things photographers say to their subjects, like doctors, every photographer has their own kind of "bedside manner" and tried and true ways of engaging their subjects. Some tricks work better than others. Some tricks are weirder than others. Not sure that there is any positive or negative correlation between the two. In any case, I have come to realize and accept that most photographers are a different kind of animal. No two are alike, but all are equally off and strange in some unique way.

Need some proof?

I love my camera, but I would stop short of this. I have however, slept with my baseball glove as a kid.
I have often asked myself what lengths I would go for a shot...
Risk v. Reward
Objects in viewfinder may be closer than they appear.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but...
The Presidential camera grip could use some work.
An odd bunch for sure with wildly varying skill levels, approaches, and personalities- whose only connection is a love for photography. As eclectic a group as any, but I suppose that's what makes the industry interesting.

Monday, May 9, 2011


At one point in time it was said that, 'all roads lead to Rome.'

As such, Rome continues to represent the "old" Italy, but Milan is hailed as a representative of the "new" Italy. While Milan may serve as the face of modern Italy, the city was carefully expanded- while retaining and honoring culture through preserving elements of the past. What makes this more impressive is that Milan was able to responsibly respect its tradition without compromising its fresh, elegant, and innovative vision of the future. Style just oozes from the Milanese.

Old and new have a home in Milan, and neither appear out of place. I have always found the harmony or precarious balance between two conflicting notions fascinating. Milan embodies that dynamic, and she is clad in fashionable garb.

I didn't get to spend more than the short part of an afternoon walking around Milan. In fact, it was more of a transit point en route to a client meeting than anything else. Did I see a few sites? Yes. Did I enjoy a nice meal and some good wine and amazing espresso? Yes. Would I have liked to have more time to explore? Absolutely. But much like the models on the runway, I had to keep on walking.


Piazza del Duomo is a fine example of the meshing of old and new. Not more than 100 yards from one of the largest cathedrals in the world is what is said to be the world's oldest shopping mall. I also found the placement of large advertisements on historical buildings to be a bit appalling at first, but somehow I guess it all just works.

Old likes to stare at New, especially if it is in tight stylish jeans.

Perhaps without a home, but not void of some style and a sympathetic companion.

Walking around Italy really personally drove home the point that American history even at its earliest stages is considered quite modern by most of the world's standards. In the US, something 200 years old is thought to be ancient. Most people in Europe and Asia wouldn't bat an eye for something that isn't at least a few thousand years old.

I should have realized this earlier, but I finally get it. 

And now onward on my journey to discover the more "traditional" aspects of Italy...