Sunday, 21 August 2011

POV: Can Travel Photogs Learn From Fashion Images?

Not only is there a wonderful feature on Esperenza Spalding, the young jazz singer, in this week's T Magazine (The New York Times' Style Magazine), but there's also a lovely Hermes advertisement of a model pirouetting, showing off what I presume are clothes from its Fall collection.

I frequently leaf through T Magazine to look at the fashion adverts. Not only to admire the beautiful models, but also to study how fashion photographers set up their shoots, the postures and poses adopted by the models, the color schemes and the lighting. I hesitate to say that these photographs inspire me, because I think it would be an exaggeration, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if my leafing through such pages doesn't leave a visual residue which I reach for when I'm photographing in India, Bhutan or Bali...for example.

"Is it uncomfortable for a self-described 'mensch' like me to admit this? Perhaps... a little."

The imagery of the Hermes advert reminded me of my own photo gallery The Dancing Monks of Prakhar, which features Cham dancers in Bhutan. The dancers are generally monks, and wear elaborate costumes and masks. I am certain that looking at fashion spreads must've influenced my aesthetics in some way. Is it uncomfortable for a self-described mensch like me to admit this? A little.

There's absolutely nothing wrong in that...quite the opposite. In fact, fashion photographers set up photo shoots in exotic locales, taking a page or two from travel photographers' handbook. So having a two-way exchange of ideas, concepts and techniques is a good thing for both types of photography.

Some of my photo-expeditions participants have backgrounds in either fashion or design industries, and their photography is consistently different in style and aesthetic from those who don't have that background...they have a whimsy, an airy look to them that the rest don't have.