I want to tell you about this photo, but first I should point out that most of this blog post is an advertisement. You might even say it’s the worst form of advertisement, since there really isn’t a product behind it. The product and its advertisement are one and the same. To add insult to injury this discussion of the advertisement is also part of the advertisement.
While this advertisement isn’t trying to sell you anything, it is trying to get and retain your favorable attention. The longer you stay on this site, the more satisfaction I get. Using photos of subjects like the one above in advertising is a trick to get you to read the accompanying text and, in most cases, buy some product.
That I’m not selling anything may be small consolation to those still reading this, because I am getting your time, which is like money to some people. The advertising trick used in this text is an old one, where the description of the trick is part of the trick. Readers are (hopefully) tricked into staying here (my goal) by a description of the details of the trick with which they’re being tricked.
To avoid being tricked, leave now – you’ve already seen the picture. But before you go, keep in mind that if you do leave now, you’ll be doing what an advertisement told you to do, and thus you’re being controlled by an advertisement; but if you continue reading, you’ll be doing what I want you to do, and in a sense still being controlled by an advertisement.
Those still reading at this point are likely to be curious about the technical aspects of the photo or are maybe just thinking about how advertising works. As a small reward I’ll offer up the tech details.
The idea for this photo came from its subject, who said she could hold a neck bridge long enough to get some pictures. She knew exactly the style of lighting she wanted, but didn’t know how to get it. Here’s what we ended up with.
We used a roll of nine foot seamless ”Smoke” paper by Superior, shaping it so the transition from vertical to floor formed a small radius. We used a 7-foot boom to lower a downward-firing softbox just out of camera view. We cut a cover for the softbox to block all the light except for a strip about eight inches wide over the length of her body. A fill light 2.5 stops under the main sat near the camera. Both lights were 11-year old UltraZap UZ1600 strobes from Paul Buff/White Lightning. Simple lighting, really.
This blog post actually has a second purpose – to learn more about how readers end up here. There is really nothing in this text that indicates the nature of the photo. I enjoy looking at WordPress’s blog statistics and referral info. It is very unlikely that you’d arrive here if you’re just cruising for photos of this subject matter by using a search engine.
A while back as a joke I wrote a post containing lots of provocative search terms, resulting in that post being completely blocked by search engines for a few months. Either by a human referee or by some nifty algorithm, the search companies finally decided the post wasn’t spam. Now a big chunk of my traffic comes from searches on you know what.
That post ultimately boiled down to an advertisement. I had recently written a long post about using photography in the study of the origins of ancient Roman marble portraits. [Bad grammar checker! There should not be a comma after ancient or Roman. Those are cumulative adjectives, not coordinate ones.] I was disappointed with how few people read the Roman stuff, and I included a link to it in the provocative post.
And this post boils down to an advertisement too, despite my having shared a nugget about studio lighting. Now go read about the portraits of Augustus and Caligula.