teenagers

The Paris H and Kim K Effect in Photography

As a photographer, I am not a fan of Paris Hilton.  Her duck face, hand on the hip posing technique has made my job harder. Not everyone can pull off the duck face look, in fact no one really can.  Now the hand on the hip, that is hit or miss. As a photographer who shoots a lot of teens, I see it often. I want to capture who the teen really is, not who they think they should look like.

A few years after Paris, Kim Kardashian takes over reality television. Not only does Kim’s derriere take over, so does her speech patterns. Teenagers are now sticking out there tush to get a more desirable booty. Did you ever listen to teens or twenty somethings in line at Starbucks? Their conversations go something like this, “Like, o h – m y – G o d – d i d – y o u  – s e e- h e r – o u t f i t?” It is a slow drawn out  80’s Valley Girl talk. Quite frankly it is just as annoying as the Valley Girl talk was in the 80’s. I want to tell these young ladies that speaking that way makes them sound less intelligent, but I digress and close my Mom my mouth.

So here I am, trying to take a photo of a fourteen year old, sixteen year old, you fill in the age. The session often goes like this: First the hand goes on the hip, the booty gets stuck out, the chest is pushed in the opposite direction and the lips become pursed. It has to be uncomfortable, right? There is only one Paris and one Kim. I want to know this child that I am photographing. I want family and strangers to look at the finished product and understand who the subject is. Now I have a barrier to break through. I try to spend more time with this teen, talking and just having them become comfortable. I talk about school, their other activities, what their summer plans are (and maybe boys!) Trying to have them forget a camera is in front of them.  After a little time, it works and we all get to see their true beauty. Girls being themselves. Girls being who THEY truly are. I have broken the Paris and Kim effect.