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A Lesson from The Calendar Girls

posted 8 May 2015, 17:12 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 14 May 2015, 06:01 ]
By Tony Rundle

I took a photo of a very attractive lady last Saturday. I thought it was a great photo, but she wasn’t convinced. I take photos of literally thousands of people each year, and roughly half of those are ladies. Between ourselves, some look fantastic, and some are less so.

As you can imagine, some women are happy with how they look, while others are not. But here’s the strange thing: there seems to be no relationship between how confident they are with how pretty they are. Many of the most attractive are the most self conscious, while the opposite is also true.

So let me tell you ladies: you don’t have to look like fashion models. There is more to it than that. The current fashion is for models to be skinny. Compared to the beauties of 50 years or so ago, they look positively under-nourished. Have a look at a Busby Berkeley films – I bet every one of the girls would be thought of as overweight at their local Weight Watchers! The other thing that good models have is a wonderful bone structure. This is what makes them stand out from the crowd. The downside is that their skin may be pretty awful as a result of all the time spent applying and removing makeup of various sorts. If you saw them in the supermarket doing their shopping, you would probably not give them a second glance.

When we see someone “in the flesh” as it were, we not only take into account their face and body shape, but also their posture and body language, expression, tone of voice, and all sorts of other stuff. We pay more attention to their smile than the proportions of their face. For people we know, we may also take into account their personality. Of course, much of this disappears when translated into a two dimensional picture. Some years ago I took photos of a group of mums that included a famous ex Vogue model. Under normal circumstances, she didn’t look like anything special but, in a photo, she practically jumped off the page.

As a portrait photographer, my aim is to try to bring out your expression and personality, and not just rely on physical characteristics. My objective is to produce a picture that captures your personality, not just your bone structure.

You are your most severe critic – your friends like you just as you are.

So next time someone is taking a photo of you, whether close family, a friend, or someone like me, remember the Calendar Girls and be proud of how you look.

Tony Rundle