Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photography Peeve

You know how when you open up a page, especially a blogger's page, and see an extreme close-up of a person, either a baby, kid, or the blogger him/herself, and you sort of startle back? That's my peeve.

Back in the dark ages of film, I wanted a camera and did a bit of reading about photography. One of the few things that stuck with me was from someone who did portrait photography, about taking pictures of babies and children.

This portrait photographer noted that parents, especially mothers, are used to seeing their babies and young children really close up, but everyone else is used to seeing babies at a social distance of a few feet. So, this photographer suggested, if you're taking a picture of a baby primarily for the parent, you want to take it closer, so that the baby's face takes up a larger area of the photo. That closeness mimics the closeness that a parent is used to, and thus tends to make parents feel comfortable with the photo. But that same photo will tend to make non-parents less comfortable, so for a photo for non-parents, you adjust your lens/distance so that the baby's face is less big in the picture. And that mimics the social distance other people are used to, and so makes them more comfortable.

Now babies and little kids close up are bad enough. I know I'm an old stick-in-the-mud, but I don't need a close up of the runny nose and drool, really.

But you can tell when an adult is doing his/her own picture, especially using a camera lens on a laptop or cell phone, and you get a close up of their pores. It's way too close.

I would guess that we're used to looking at ourselves up pretty close, because we look at ourselves in mirrors while we're cleaning those pores and all.

In the old film days, I doubt most people took many self-portraits of themselves alone, and when they did, they probably tried to make it look like an art portrait and so were using a pretty good social distance. But now, taking self-portraits with a laptop or cell phone camera, where you're at most an arm's length away? That seems too close for the social distance that makes us comfortable, doesn't it?

That's my peeve. Step back from the lens, people!

My extra peeve is when someone does a video capture of themselves talking while they're driving; you not only get the extreme up-close, but the impression that they're so effing important that they have to multi-task instead of focusing on driving. Here's news: if you're that important, you probably would have someone driving you. And you'd have someone else doing the video, too.

Caveat: there are PLENTY of bloggers who take great pics of their kids, who take pics at a good social distance, manage to clean the slobber up. My peeve isn't about those folks at all.

And yes, I have noticed that I have a greater tolerance for close-up animal pictures than people pictures.

NB. It was either this or starting grading right away and live-blogging my grading. :(


  1. ...and your entry was far too short for my taste! Damn, now I hafta find some OTHER way to avoid that stack awaiting my pen and commentary. *sigh*

  2. I'm grading too. Hate grading. Do not want.

  3. Anonymous9:21 PM

    But you can tell when an adult is doing his/her own picture, especially using a camera lens on a laptop or cell phone, and you get a close up of their pores. It's way too close.

    So either it's a self-portrait, or one taken by a photographer for the NY Times Magazine, which inevitably reveals far more about the insides of the subject's nostrils than I ever want to see...

    I collect a big batch of papers to grade tomorrow, so I feel your pain, everyone.