Monday, March 30, 2009

got character

It's nice to open a fashion magazine and see wrinkles. Or laugh lines. Or double chins. Or frizzy hair. After seeing magazine image after image  photoshopped -beyond the point of looking human- there's something really surprising and reassuring about flipping through a magazine and seeing people that look like actual people.
I was reading an old Vanity Fair today and after passing the ubiquitous fashion spreads without more than a second look, I came upon some of the photos from U.S.A networks character project. I couldn't look away. 

I have become so accustomed to seeing the photoshopped bodies and faces of actresses and models that natural occurrences like freckles,  wrinkles, and under-eye bags seem so out of place. It's odd, how we look in the mirror everyday and see these realities, and yet in a magazine we've almost come to expect every flaw airbrushed. 
The character project has actually been going on for awhile, but this is the first time I saw the images juxtaposed against a slew of fashion advertising, the affect is intriguing. The project according to the website is an ongoing artistic initiative to capture the character of American and pay tribute to the extraordinary people, from all walks of life, who make this country unique. The people photographed come from all over the country and the work is created by 11 world renowned photographers. All the photos are different but refreshing in their own way. You can see all the work and videos about the making of here. 


  1. Interesting, indeed! Worth noting though is that the photographic technique here is what's really important -- be it in normal fashion photography, or this 'character' set of photos.

    Digital darkroom work (Photoshop) is rife, but even those character photos have been heavily modified to make them beautiful in SOME way -- be it their eyes, or their facial hair, or just increased contrast to make them look 'striking'.

    There's no way those 'characters' would look anything like that in real life, walking down a street :)

  2. Good point. I think what attracts me to them is that they treat what would otherwise would be perceived as flaws as something beautiful. But yes I'm sure some photo trickery is at works always.

  3. Well, what are you finding beautiful about them? :)

    Their eyes, their hair?

    I think, perhaps, it comes down to 'finding beauty in anything' -- something most empathetic people are willing to do... it's just easier if beauty is slapped down on a plate -- the magazine page -- for you!

  4. I love this so so much. I just got the new Vanity Fair and it has a huge pull-out poster of this, and I'm about to hang it up in my room. Genius!

  5. i love these. i actually stopped along the path from the 2 to the V to read the billboard. looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.