It occurs to me as I am looking for my son's 7th grade school photos, that we have given in to what is cool. Instagram, Facebook photo editor, Apple Photo booth are all great at making dull photos 'cool' Cool for the sake of cool is well, Cool! But I question weather or not it is effective at making a photograph better. The students that I help with their Technology Students Association (TSA) competition in photography I make sure we talk about the need of a photograph to communicate, and being 'cool' takes away from that. I urge them to 'find the verb' in order to make more interesting images not to 'Photoshop' to make it look cool, but to use Photoshop to make their point stronger. And they win on a regular basis.
I find way too many posts on the news feeds about cameras with small sensors and how 'horrible' they are because the owners can't control depth of field, and therefore can't throw backgrounds out of focus. Photoshop has some really groovey (the old cool perhaps) new tools that allow you to throw parts of an image out of focus. I picked up an awesome piece of software for portraits that makes parts of the image easily go out of focus. The reason for all this work is so we can focus a viewers attention on the parts that are important, throwing the unimportant parts out of focus is one tool a photographer has to control their composition.
The Green Screen defeats that.
The green screen is a really cool tool for your weatherman, allowing him to put an interactive map behind him. And It allows Hollywood to create all those fantastic special effects. But is it really the right thing for our school portraits?
Is it important for our school children's school portraits to be on a background of the Eiffel tower? Do we really need to see our school kids seated in the middle of an Irish glade? Or against a brick wall covered with graffiti tags? When did our school portraits need to start being 'cool' and stop being about our children? are our portraits no longer about making a record of the progress of our children's growth? Shouldn't our kids be the important part of the portrait? and not what 'art scape' we decide to put behind them? They don't even have the standard old 'blue backdrop' you know the one? It is what we had our portraits against. Unless of course you had yours done against the black to do those fancy double exposures with your face and a profile, done In the camera! Wow, now That was cool, AND it helped do exactly what photography is meant to do, communicate, It would show two amazing views of the same kid at the same slice of time in their life. Fantastic!
So perhaps this is a rant. Perhaps I am just getting old and no longer cool. But if so why do pro's and amateurs alike spend MORE money to make backgrounds irrelevant? And yet, our school portraits they need to work harder to make them more relevant. What do the school picture companies know that I don't? I tell you this, They don't get lots of peoples money because the plain old blue background is just no longer offered, and isn't that really what those photos are for?