Imperfection has recently taken over the word ‘beautiful’ in Pakistan’s fashion industry and I have been a keen spectator to this changing trend, in Pakistan and globally as well.
As a fashion photographer, I have observed some new trends in our photo shoots and brand’s image building practices but all this connect to the worldwide fashion scene where it started taking place a few years back. Some envisioned this and some shadowed. Those who followed this were mostly lacking skill or resources, and keeping it imperfect actually made things easier for them.
Now lets elaborate the shifting fashion photography trend globally and then discuss its impact on Pakistan’s fashion industry.
Artists usually rise from a very humble background having a few or very less resources to fund their art, and this is mostly the case around the world. Unlike Pakistan, it’s not easy for any artist or a photographer to have a principal amount given by his/her parents to start up a studio. Normally people work hard and earn to start up their passionate professional endeavors. Therefore it’s not very convenient for young photographers to buy costly equipment or hire professional retouchers to elevate their work. Only thing they have is their uncooked aptitude, which varies in each individual, and rest is all the uphill battle and persistence they put into their work.
When young photographers start their photography assignments in west, they lack all these glittery resources thus it’s difficult for them to hire a crew to fix the set, neaten the hair and perfect the light. It is also difficult for them to hire a professional photography retoucher to fix sweat, (unless and until the mood board requires that) marks and the inappropriate highlights they create or smoothen the skin. So they produce their work in its purest and natural form. But due to a universal social media overthrow and that every person has an unlimited access to Internet, and platforms where they can showcase their work, people have starting coming across more of such photography work. Not to mention the easy availability of digital single lens reflex cameras also known as DSLRs in short.
Gone are the days when you use to see campaigns only in print magazines like Vogue, Harper, etc. or only when you knew a few photographers working on film cameras. This is the generation next and what is quick, uploaded, trending and shared is the new media standard. I will not be surprised if print magazines go out of scene completely and people start subscribing to electronic magazines only. This will further support the case discussed in this write-up as one will no longer need high resolution images as computer/tablet screens require three times lesser resolution and less retouch. It is actually printing that shows you the real hard work and pain taken in finishing a commercial photograph.
Parallel to this, there are many organizations working for this cause where they want women in fashion to own how they look, their complexions and their curves. Which is a beautiful thing to work on and aware people of. I have shot a campaign like this too collaborating with a journalist here in Pakistan.
But this is not what is happening in Pakistan’s fashion industry. No brand or photographer will take an imperfect model but they surely are deteriorating their photography standards by following the social media rookies around the globe. I have witnessed a lot of good photographers lowering their styling and retouch level trying to do what is trending.
Apart from having a good styling team, they think it is the new thing to always have hair on the face in commercial assignments. Apart from having a good retouching team, they have followed the ‘keeping it natural’ retouch where unnecessary marks and unwanted highlights are not touched. This is actually bringing our fashion photography prospect downwards when we compare it internationally.
What we need to understand is that we were already way ahead than the new comers at Instagram or Facebook. We have already set a par and we need to move forward perfecting the fashion photography work more and more rather than bringing it down by hiring a bad makeup/styling team or asking your retouchers to follow what you see a 15-year-old boy doing at any social media platform. Those beginners will improve with time like we did, perfect their skill and then bring back the global trend of what you are capable of doing right now. It’s our time to take the lead and set standards internationally.
Either its west or our region, you will always see a matured and tested photographer working on his/her light and practicing it through editorials. Mood boards play a major role in editorials and that’s where one can sketch out all the creativity and execute it in his shoots. Going back to where one started just because it’s trending globally will only dwindle your talent.
What is more in number is not what is always right. Progress in your journey, in your hard work and take it forward along as a value addition.
-Mohsin Khawar (Writing from Pakistan)
Published in Hello! Pakistan