low-fi glamour: incomplete distraction

Stock photography and making “new photos” out of them. More “glamour” …..

by Art Chantry ( Art@artchantry.com) :

We’re all familiar with stock photos. Nowadays, most professional photographers know no longer take photos, but make stock images. These photos are sold through websites for download and reproduction. Designers grab these photos (sometimes actually paying for them) and then ‘re-work’ them in photoshop to create the desired image. Basically they take stock photos and make new photos out of them. Strange days.

Back in the earlier days of advertising and design, this system existed as well. The images were often seconds, out-takes and highly adaptable images that could be used in any of a number of settings and advertising needs. The user would order it through the stock photo house (often out of a printed catalog). Then the stock house would send them either a slide or a print of whatever is needed for their use. The user would pay a ‘usage fee’ depending on how the photo was to be used. For instance, if it was to be used in a dummy or comp, the fee would be much smaller than if it were to be used in a brochure printed in the millions of copies and distributed world wide. Very practical and everybody made money. But, it would still cost much less than hiring a ‘live’ photographer and working with them to obtain the custom photo image you may need.

Read More:http://www.artchantry.com/

However, often the stock photo house would make ‘generic’ style poses and scenarios (that could be used in a variety of ways) and attempt to sell these to the industry as well. It could be a housewife bending over a washing machine (used to sell washing machines or soap or whatever you want) or it could be a brutish looking man with a stogie (a boss or foreman or even a working stiff). The concepts behind these images are hilariously familiar and yet still vague enough to be adaptable to a number of uses. Old magazines are peppered with these stock images used in the little ads buried throughout their pages.

in the post war period – the glory years of ‘madmen’ style advertising – one of the most popular forms of stock photography was the ‘glamour’ shot. this was an offshoot of model photography that would have a buxom beautiful woman posing in a variety fo peculiar environments (and varying states of dress) that could be used for adverts or calendars or even picked up by ‘men’s magazines’ and used to entice America’s hormone-soaked male classes.

Art:here is an interior two-page spread of what these 'advertising' photos looked like. "mom? izzat you?"

A lot of these ‘glamour’ stock photo companies were little more than a single somewhat cheezy fella with a studio, camera equipment and a lot of props. I think of this territory as classic ‘bachelor pad’ photography – that weird fetishistic territory where the hotshot handsome young man with a camera used the existing system to meet hot chicks and maybe get lucky. Then they would make some money on the side. It’s one small step above pornography. Indeed back in the days of our fathers, this was viewed as ‘r-rated’ pornography . Those old ‘morality code’ systems disappeared in the late sixties and are almost forgotten.

People collect this today as a sort of artifact of a more innocent time (like it was ever innocent). The whole ‘Bettie Page’ revival in fashion and underground culture is a celebration of an antique idea of pornography – taking the oppressive stereotypes of the older generation and using that look to empower a newer younger mindset. A woman with a Bettie Page haircut is still threatening to a large bracket of the ‘good old boy’ power elite that runs this culture. And this old ‘glamour’ photography is no different. Women sporting this look in their hipster dress and fashion are walking breathing threats to the establishment. It’s the power of the early Courtney Love look. or Madonna. It’s a process called “usurping the iconography of the enemy”.

Once in a while i’ll get lucky and find and old catalog of glamour photography stock photos like this

. I’ve never heard of this guy. Some of the glamor photographers became quite famous – like Russ Meyer and Peter Gowland and even Bunny Yeager. But this guy doesn’t even use his name. it’s the 1960 stock photo catalog of a business called ‘enterprise photos of Dallas, Texas – “pin-ups for advertising.”

Exactly what kind of advertising could this stuff be used for? Dunno. They have all the terms and conditioners of use on the cover and the rest of the thing is only photos of buxom scantily clad babes in silly poses. I swear I’ve seen some of these images in old ‘men’s magazines’ of the 50′s and 60′s with names like “cocktail” and “adam” and ‘duke’. So, I wonder how much real ‘advertising’ use they really had.

Sometimes these catalog’s were actually just porn.

…Although he was initially mystified, Chantry eventually realized that distraction is a key component in his ideation process. He elaborates: “As the years went by, I tried all kinds of things$#151;exercise, drugs. What I began to realize is that the brain is not a grid. It’s a mosh. Ideas are constantly flying through your head. The creative pro-cess happens in the unconscious. The trick is to kick it into the conscious part of your brain. That’s where relaxation and distraction help.” Read More:http://www.howdesign.com/article/artchantry/

Although he no longer engages in some of the distractions he experimented with earlier in his career, Chantry has incorporated other rituals into his design process to help trigger the creative flow. “I used to love playing records while I worked,” he says. “While I was busy going through the process of pulling out a record and putting it on the turntable, my mind was still working.” Chantry compares this process to driving a car. “You’re not consciously driving that car. Your body is driving it, and you’re thinking about other things,” he explains.

Chantry has observed other creatives using distraction as a means of getting to a place where their subconscious lets loose. He says it’s most apparent during group brainstorming sessions when participants engage in throwing a ball or some other mindless physical activity. “There’s this problem of trying to come up with an idea in a short period of time and do it vocally in a conscious fashion,” he says. “That’s when you see people doing this Nerf-ball thing. They’re trying to break the conscious effort and let the subconscious flow. It’s almost like they’re self-medicating.” Although he sees the benefits in collaborating, Chantry says the ideation phase should be a private process: “When the group decision-making turns into a conscious effort, stuff starts to get kind of crummy.” Read More:http://www.howdesign.com/article/artchantry/


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