PHOTOGRAPHERS’ RULES FOR PUBLICITY SHOTS
BLAM BLAM ACTION FLICKS: tight clothes, open mouths, guns, explosions.
In all cases stick their digitally buffed faces on hot body doubles. We are selling fantasy here folks, not Pint ‘n’ Pie Night night down the Dog and Duck.
COMEDIES: either one or both eyebrows must be raised. All forehead wrinkles will be erased as reality has no business poking its nose in.
DRAMAS: men must frown, women must…not give the photoshop team too many problems. Blankface is best. Suggest they think about golf.
SERIOUS THEATRE: requires mid-distance staring, best if you can waft a bad smell under their nose. Dramatic stage lighting blasts out most blotchy face problems.
MUSICALS: jazz hands, spotlight, orange face, blue teeth. Get the kids to colour it in at home.
PERFORMERS’ INDUSTRY DIRECTORIES: black and white, go soft, dopey as you can, make them all look the same. Perfect sense.
COMEDY TOURS: a secret stash of crockery under the cushion to startle them into the sort of face that wants a slap. Make it so slap-able they want to slap themselves. Maybe just slap them.
CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: same as comedy tour unless they’re recovering alcoholics or had a health jolt, then do it in black and white and stand them by a brick wall.
MURDER AUTHOR: tell them your mum thinks she can write a better story than that without the need for swear words. Keep mentioning your mum’s suggestions for improvement until they look like they’re plotting another murder.
SELF HELP AUTHOR/WOMAN’S MAGAZINE EXPERT/TOP PRICE PSYCHOTHERAPIST: these demand an alien-abduction-strength glow around their smug face resting on an elegant manicured hand, preferably belonging to someone 30 years younger. They’ll arrange their own smugness.
ALBUM COVER: hide solo artists behind a guitar neck, bleach out the rest of the face, go blue filter. With bands it’s best to pull each one aside and tell them the other members are being paid more than them, promise beer and never deliver, lock the toilets. That should set the moody tone. If you must go outside, make it somewhere dusty and usher them into the shade.
ANYTHING FOR A CHARITY: strictly black and white, dark, total absence of hope or cheer. SUPERMARKET MANAGER: ensure there is no discernible natural light source, add red colour to their face indiscriminately, dab on a few more spots or shaving rash (especially on the ladies), give them a finishing polish and flash bang wallop you’re done.
TV SPORTS PROFILES: get a drunk raccoon to do it.
You may think I’m being facetious but we readily swallow these above norms. We accept that film stars and musicians are supposed to be flawless, and that us normal bods don’t deserve beautiful photography no matter how good we may be at our job.
It cuts both ways. We can titter at Madonna’s latest plastic surgery but what is the problem? Is it her own pedestal-toppling vanity? Is it our mud-dwelling schadenfreude? Is it stay-in-your-lane patriarchy? Yes to all of the above.
Recent discussions on Roald Dahl’s finger-pointy language about fat ugly witches add to the noise. Have we been conditioned since children to judge everyone, particularly women, on their acceptable/unacceptable looks? Yes.
Does this ultimately damage men and boys too? Yes. This narrow-eyed scrutiny affects everyone who challenges the set ideas of the beholder’s gender, race, age or size.
Care over our appearance should be a personal matter, nobody else’s business and certainly not based on prejudice, whether that’s artery-hardened or spit-of-the-month.
If we need a photograph for a work profile, a dating app, a bus pass – and we all need a photo somewhere down the line – don’t we all deserve a fair shot? A fair shot of a real face, a real face appreciated more for its character and warmth than for its perfect nose and ironed-out skin, the best shot from a photographer who genuinely wants to give you the best shot.
It’s time film and pop stars were allowed to be real, and real faces were loved by us
And if you can’t tell if your local supermarket manager is a girl or a boy or you want
to know where they’re really from or whether they’ve eaten all the pies it’s time you were introduced to the notion that we’re not all thinking the same. Some of us are wondering about more important things like how your words sound to a child, and will that child grow up to be just like you, or will they have such a burning need to be loved that they’ll spend a fortune on cosmetic surgery to earn it.
And obviously whether they have Coconut Rings in stock. I mean… save your outrage for the important stuff.