Authenticity in Photography

Packshot on 17/11/2011

In recent years, the demand for authenticity has overtaken the demand for technical brilliance in photography. Among the most high-profile evidence for this shift in priorities are Diesel and, in particular, Puma, who recently chose to depict their “After Hours Athletes” in a late-night frenzy involving three girls and a shopping trolley. The authenticity of the image is derived from the lack of sharp focus and the motion blurring, as well as the harsh lighting of the snow in the foreground and the lack of any rigorous poses. Each of these elements might have been excluded from a conventional photographic shoot. Puma’s decision to include them illustrates their desire to be associated with realistic enjoyment and dynamism.

Diesel’s online catalogue is slightly different: mixed in with conventional studio shots we find humorous lifestyle photographs: frivolous male activity around a freshwater environment and a bed of reeds. It may – by a trifle – stretch the concept of ”authenticity” to show two half-naked men traipsing purposefully through the reeds, wearing masks and bearing an axe, but boisterous behaviour was the idea, and the informal lack of constraint is evident in the final set of images.

In a contemporary twist of our own, we have been hiring actors for shoots when required, rather than conventional models. Actors, of course, bring the advantage of being able to get into characters and mindsets, allowing us to aim towards this authenticity with a little more expertise – because even authenticity is an aesthetic which must be created.

Few understand this better than actors – it is their job to be believable. During a recent shoot involving a couple in an urban location, the actors we hired were exceptional, conveying a sense of warmth and contentment. Posing is well is one skill in itself. Getting into character as these two did is another.

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