Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Shoddy" Olympic Portraits

Have you seen this? Photographer Joe Klamar made portraits of U.S. Olympic athletes, and they're not being well received. This was something he did for Getty, a well known and highly respected stock photography company.

The photographs appear to be amateurish. A bit cheap, perhaps. Careless even.

People, especially photographers, don't seem to appreciate this art.

I'm not familiar with any of Joe Klamar's other work. He works for Getty, so he has talent. I think these images were very purposefully made this way. My guess is these photographs are exactly as the photographer wanted them to be.

The question is no longer if the images are any good or not. The question is what was Joe trying to say with these images. Does that message translate?

I think the message is that the plastic-like images we usually see of Olympic athletes are a false message that don't portray the humanness that really exists. Those images are a false truth. Joe's images are imperfect, as are those that compete in the games--as are the nations that compete in the games. There is more honesty in Joe Klamar's photographs than in the "nice" photographs we are used to.

His images are both a failure and a success.

The photographs failed because most people don't seem to "get" the art. The massage doesn't seem to translate. Maybe that reflects more on the viewer than the photographer, but it's the photographers job to make the message understandable. And he didn't.

The photographs succeeded because we're talking about it. This is a huge exposure for the photographer. There is some truth to the phrase "there is no bad press."

I commend Joe Klamar for doing something different and trying to put a voice to what would otherwise be "done before" images. But his execution is a little wanting and certainly not inspiring.

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