About Photography Formalities

The first thing that occurred to me was that formal photos are old fashioned, they belong to the Victorian age, there is no place for them in the modern age. Modern society is casual, informal, and modern photographs should reflect this informality.
Another reason for not taking formal pictures is that children behave naturally, they are uninhibited. And because of this photographers should photograph them behaving naturally, in an uninhibited way.

So the arguments against taking formal photographs of the children were: (a) they are old fashioned and (b) they are not natural.

But it occurs to me that these arguments, these `rules’, have been devised by photographers. They have not been devised by parents. Some parents might quite like to have a formal photograph of their sons and daughters. They might have enough informal pictures of them, photos which they have probably taken themselves.

Or maybe these `rules’ have not been devised by photographers. Maybe they are just responding to market forces. The market demands informal photographs so they are the kind of pictures which they take.

Let’s try to analyse this. What do we mean by market forces? Parents, of course! They are the market forces. They buy photographs of their children, they drive photographers to take informal photographs of their children.

But is this because they really want these informal photographs, or is it because they have been conditioned to want them? Are they victims of fashion, are they just following a trend?

So many conflicting arguments. And the photographer is trapped in the middle of them. What does he or she do? Respond to market forces or follow his or her instincts? My instincts tell me that parents might sometimes prefer formal photographs of their children, photographs which have been taken in a portrait photography studio.

Probably the best solution is to take both kinds of pictures – informal and more formal. And this is what I did for the newspaper photoshoot. I took a portable studio along with me to the shoot, and used it to take a few slightly formal photographs, as well as informal ones.