Gerry-An, Tzigane, Avenue Magazine 1988
Most people change their behavior when they become aware of the presence of a camera or see a smartphone pointed at them.
Some make exaggerated gestures, indicating they don’t want to be photographed and turn their head away, but every time again, it strikes me how many people start to pose.
They put on airs, make funny faces or look gracefully into the camera. Some put on sunglasses or a weird little hat, others hold up an object.
Normally nice people suddenly start to act like clowns, behaving like fools, trying to look tougher, sexier, funnier, better, whatever, in order to give an impression of themselves, different from who they are.
They obviously find it difficult to continue with what they were doing as soon as they realize they will be photographed, frozen in time, for the world to see.
Nothing new in itself. Behavior like this already existed long before the digital age in which we live now, and in which many claim their ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ by posting their finest moments in theatrical poses on Facebook. Sometimes as a selfie, with or without a duck face.
I often wonder to what extent these kind of pictures represent ‘reality’, and why the need to be captured ‘unreal’ arises, since untrained people who start to perform, usually look like bad actors in old fashioned silent movies.
Uncertainty? Dissatisfaction with reality? Or corresponding to an assumed expectation as a form of acquired ‘normal’ behavior, belonging to photography?
Making pictures of people, posing like models in overacted, unnatural ways is as old as photography itself, and became a habit accepted by many. Think for instance of Madonna: ‘Strike a pose! Vogue, Vogue, Vogue!’
The opposite, however, to photograph models like people, and express a timeless, human feeling, is another possibility.