Sometimes I feel like some sort of demented substitute teacher, handing out reading assignments left and right, even though I know full well that the assignment is optional and most of you will skip it. I'm trying to be good about that, and not link to too many long articles. Just because I read something doesn't mean you have to. You have your own life.
Lauren Collins' "Pixel Perfect: Pascal Dangin's Virtual Reality," however, apart from its horrible title (containing a bad pun and a cliché term!), is a long one. It's also great reading, I think, for anyone who wants to understand the current state of commercial photography—so very different than it was a mere dozen years ago.
Among much else, the article contains a lot of deadpan bizarro humor, as in this exchange between top fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier and the wizard retoucher Dangin:
"I like her in this one, because she looks very natural," Dangin said.
"Yes," Demarchelier agreed. "In that other pose, she looks like an actress."
"But she’s also very good here," Dangin said, of a shot that showed her partially nude.
"Yes, she’s very beautiful in that position. Do you want to cut it?"
"No, no. I’m going to keep it for the ass," Dangin said.
"Maybe we could redo the ass."
"Yes, the ass is quite heavy."
No, I do not like that hat. (But keep it; maybe we can use it.)
Or this next passage, which I found utterly hilarious—ironic to the point of surreality, and I'm still not sure whether intentionally so or not:
In March, I met Dangin in Los Angeles, where he had gone to work on the Lanvin ad campaign, to be shot by Steven Meisel. At six in the morning, he picked me up at my hotel—in a red Mini Cooper—and drove to Smashbox Studios, a sprawling complex of soundstages in Culver City.
We arrived to a mostly empty set. Fifteen full-sized wheelie suitcases were waiting for the makeup artist, Pat McGrath. One of them was labelled "Gold-Blonde Wigs." Dangin went to get a cup of coffee at the craft-services table.
Edward Enninful, the stylist for the shoot, greeted him, and they began to discuss another campaign they were working on, which had been shot earlier. Dangin had just received the raw pictures.
"What was going on with the hair?" Dangin asked.
"I don’t know," Enninful replied. "It was twenty different ways, doing it, undoing it."
"It feels compromised," Dangin said. "This way looks…bourgeois."
What? Whoa. Like there's anything not bourgeois about a high-dollar fashion-products ad campaign. Good thing I didn't have a mouthful of coffee when I read that—that spread in the magazine might have been ruined.
Anyway, good stuff for those interested in that world, and in understanding the advertising we all see in the better magazines. A cautionary tale as far as what to believe in pictures. And no longer do any of us have an excuse for not knowing the name Pascal Dangin.
Featured Comment by JLTjr: "Several years ago I was invited to a Fashion Week party; on the disco floor, Mario Testino was dancing with a Contax T2 flashing away in each hand. In front of him, a group of supermodels were dancing in a circle. But they were not dancing for Mario. A fashionista friend pointed out the short, pale, nerdy man dancing in the center of the supermodel circle: 'See that guy? He's the best Photoshop artist in New York.' Now I know his name."