Things that Date a Photo

By: Jeremy Cannon

~Hello and Good Monday Everyone~

Having various props, costuming, and other elements in your work is a source of great excitement and fun for a photographer! There are certain times that we want to have a photo dated by the various elements contained within it, however there are also times when a photo is stronger when it can remain timeless. For the series of self portraits I am working on for my senior show I want to have a timeless quality to most if not all of the photographs. This really made me consider what to avoid and what would be acceptable for the view I wanted. There are definitely some main factors that will instantly date a photo and are to be avoided if your goal is a timeless feel.

The first and most obvious factor is clothing. Shirts with text or graphics are especially hard to disguise. For those who are uncomfortable with nudity or don’t have a model who is comfortable with nudity I always suggest plain cloth such as sheets as a substitute. Another alternative is simply utilizing a portrait format from the shoulders up.

The second factor is technology.  The main use of this dating factor I see is cell phones when people take selfies or seeing the outline of a phone in someone’s pocket. This is also usually done when incorporating a specific hobby or trait the subject of the photo enjoys. I don’t really see a problem with the majority of these since the technological factor is usually the main focus of the photograph. I do think that cell phones are very easily forgotten when accidentally within frame so it’s something to be aware of as a photographer.

The third Factor is make-up. The way we do make-up is always evolving as well as whats in trend or not. This causes a pretty tricky dilemma when incorporating various newer techniques as well as looks. As a general rule I try to stay away from bold nontraditional colors if the make-up is applied in a traditional sense and instead gravitate more towards nude colors. Having said that I also use make-up as a tool to add color to the model, however I use it more like paint instead of traditional make-up. If you are going an unconventional route, then feel free to explore!

Here is a comparison of the same basic crude concept done three separate ways. The first is a solid color shirt with text and no make up. The second is a shoulders up nude with a pale pink lip color application and the third is the same as the first, however with a deep blue lip.

These three thumbnail sketch equivalents illustrate the ways that each separate item changes the feel as well as possibly dating a photo.

There are many other factors that can contribute to a dated photo and knowing what types of props contribute can help further your work and influence your photography to exemplify your set goals and themes. That’s all from me so as always…

~Have a Wonderful Week!~



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