9th February 2004, 11:34 AM
Salon Style Photography - What's Your Take?
Just a post to satisfy my curiousity.. not intended to start a flame war or otherwise :P
Think I am a traditionalist when it comes to the style of photography -- I still prefer salon-type/style photography with strong grounding in fundamental basics of composition / lighting and exposure. Perhaps, this is because of the influence of my father who has been involved with salon photography for many years. (Some of his works are featured here at http://lipsengtan.elcreations.net.)
These days though, it's not uncommon to see all sorts of different "styles" with disregard for the basics etc. Avant garde maybe? Or a reluctance to learn? Or is the salon style getting "overused" (that was what an Offstone.com member mentioend)?
What's your take?
9th February 2004, 12:04 PM
While I am fine with regular studio shots, I find the Salon-type studio shots to be contrived and cliched. Especially so for the PhotoArt ones I've seen - all of them are of the same style which can be summarised as:
Originally Posted by teL
1. black background
2. smoke in middlegroud, with shafts of light coming in at an angle
3. foreground : posed subject doing something (e.g. sewing, hammering etc)
I went to PhotoArt for a studio shoot once, and almost all of their photos posted on the wall exhibit the above.
9th February 2004, 12:06 PM
I don't know......
I find those works beautiful and technically infallible but lacks interest and content. Its not something I would ponder over or look at it the second time.
9th February 2004, 12:20 PM
9th February 2004, 12:23 PM
I'm not familiar with the history of Salon photography (nor its origins), but i do know it is happening in Singapore at various locations and have even attended one of the sessions.
Originally Posted by teL
well everyone's entitled to their own type of photography. but since u asked............ ........
Personally i think Salon photography in Singapore (if i understand ur term correctly) is contrived, fake, devoid of emotions and any creative input. You book a studio, arrange for actors / models (make sure to include some old men, young pretty china looking ladies, or some indian hunk - get a good mix), get them proper costumes and props, filter in some smoke (very important), arrange the lights, and let e bunch of guys who paid a certain amount of money to take turns taking pots shots of a scene in which they neither contrive or setup, and thereafter, review photos and compare the sharpness of each others' lenses.
Sorry Eng Loy. that's my frank opinion. If there's anything i missed out regarding Salon photography, do let me know. Seriously!
9th February 2004, 01:16 PM
to each his own.
one may go/grow from one style to another at his own timing or preference.
9th February 2004, 02:10 PM
I was with a group of non-photographers when we passed by a group of salon photographers on an open plot of land doing 'kung-fu master bursts water-filled balloons'. We saw some people holding reflectors etc and another giving instructions. When the balloon burst, you heard a whole lot of shutter clicking...
My friends asked me what they were doing and their reaction to paraphrase was 'is that really photography?'
My own view is that yes, you can learn useful skills from such photography, but please move on and shoot 'real' subjects. So what if the background is not as perfect in real-life?
p.s. Ckiang, nice pic, but maybe you should turn up the smoke machine a bit more (just kidding)
9th February 2004, 02:18 PM
Yes, to each his own.
Our friends ckiang and Reddawn have been well known to have a strong aversion about salon photography and it seems they never fail to jump on every opportunity to express their view on this salon photography. Post any photo from those salon photography clubs in Singapore, and you can be sure you'll see Reddawn and Ckiang sticking their necks out here.
In my opinion, what they said about salon photography in Singapore so far are true though to certain extent. After a while I got tired of it too but I blame it on the lack of creativity of the management/organizers of the clubs, NOT on the salon photography itself.
Nevertheless, these clubs still provide a conducive learning environment. As what Engloy said, they empashize on fundamental basics of composition, lighting and exposure. For newbies, I would still recommend joining the clubs.
To me, what really counts is how we learn from them despite what Reddawn said of them of being "contrived and cliche".
If anyone has any salon photo, please don't be shy to share it here.
9th February 2004, 02:35 PM
Yes, to each his own.
Originally Posted by rty
You're probably right on the lack of creativity. Post any salon shot and a number of people (like Red Dawn and myself) can recognise it straightaway. To such an extent that we I posted a real, unposed shot (above), people recognize it as a posed salon/studio shot, so you can see how prevalent it is.
9th February 2004, 02:44 PM
just a quick qn....whats salon photography and which clubs are specifically salon photography clubs in Singapore?
a whole brand new genre
9th February 2004, 02:58 PM
9th February 2004, 03:06 PM
In Singapore, I only know two:
Originally Posted by vince123123
9th February 2004, 03:25 PM
Hmmm .. salon photography
I have not heard this term for many years, I supposed I have been actively involved in salon photography in my early days. PhotoArt (PAS) is the very first club I joined and I have not regretted since then, coz one of the Master taught me very well in B&W and that's how I improved my skills. There are so called 6 big clubs then ... PSS, PAS, SCPS, SEAPS, SAFRAPS and BLCCPC offered courses and international competition.
Eng Loy, your father's works and frame are not stranger to most of the photographers in Singapore and overseas. I have saw your father judging a salon before and that time I am just a newbie.
My works in colour slide and colour photgraphy always been rejected by salon coz can't meet the required standard and I can understand why thru the process. A little consolation was my B&W works got acceptance in local and overseas salon photography, very close to get PSA star rating but gave up since at that time I am enlisted to NSF ...
Well, to each his own. Salon photography is here to stay but IMO I find it lagging behind time and technology. The style may have to change and maybe it may get lively again one fine day, who knows
Perhaps one day I may make a U-turn ...... not for salon photography but for photography itself ... my passion
9th February 2004, 06:04 PM
A very thoughtful article I must say.
Originally Posted by rty
I think there is a general misconception that salon photography equals what Red Dawn says as "contrived, fake, devoid of emotions and any creative input."
And I say this with basis. Out of the 6005 acceptances in 2439 international salons that my dad gathered from 1962 to 1997, and even in the works he does at present, not many are from what Red Dawn described : "You book a studio, arrange for actors / models (make sure to include some old men, young pretty china looking ladies, or some indian hunk - get a good mix), get them proper costumes and props, filter in some smoke (very important), arrange the lights, and let e bunch of guys who paid a certain amount of money to take turns taking pots shots of a scene in which they neither contrive or setup, and thereafter, review photos and compare the sharpness of each others' lenses". That in my opinion is a very narrow view of what salon photography is all about. (As an aside, in fact I think that sounds somewhat more like the model shoots which some of our more prominent members here arrange/attend )
Of course, that is what many societies at present organise in their attempt to promote what they think might be salon photography -- these are all set-up situations to learn the finer points of salon photography, but ultimately, being able to capture everyday scenes such that they might appear to be "set-up" but are actually shot candidly. That I think is the real challenge for a salon photographer.
The point is, even without a setup / "contrived" scene, countless opportunities exist in real life itself to create pictures of salon standards. I would claim that I aspire more towards the salon standards of photography (given the influence of my dad) but take a look at my portfolio: are many of the pictures I have taken contrived or setup? In fact, I would say that a large number of them are taken on the street, just like many guys claim to do: "street photography" but in my case, with a salon "flavour" or touch to the final picture.
Even the pictures from my dad's extensive portfolio are taken from scenes of everyday life, and that has been how it is since he started out in his lifelong journey in photography since the 1950/60s. And the criticism about salon photography lacking in creativity: my father was awarded his FRPS and other awards for his work in colour derivatives and darkroom techniques (some involving diazochrome processing) in contemporary photography. Many of his award-winning works were painstaking done them manually by sandwiching multiple layers of transparency film with manual masking (many of which can be easily done in Photoshop now). While some traditionalists in those days pooh-poohed the idea, saying ironically that the pictures were not real, he pioneered and made that his personal/unique style which was subsequently admired and aspired to by many of his contemporaries.
Anyway, this is just my two cents worth on salon photography in general. Ultimately, like some of you said here, to each his own. Just as art has evolved through different eras and styles through the hands of masters like Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt, so too will photography, which is afterall an artform in its own right. Only time and history will testify to its changes/evolution.
9th February 2004, 09:33 PM
With due respect, EngLoy, I've had less-than-happy experience of encountering Salon "photogs" at work. Yes, they have the theory. Practical, as in real life, that's altogether another animal. (yes, they had all those rubbish attached too - FRPS, PSS, S-n-more-S)
Those experiences have marred my impression, true. But they've also left me with a nagging suspicion that many (not most) salon photogs can only do contrived shots. Or blow a lot of hot air.
Errr..... I do think my comment may draw undue flames. Do please PM me or even let's take this offline for the details.
9th February 2004, 10:58 PM
Seldom do I engage in such a discussion but I will throw in my 2 cents:
1. Salon is a good place to start off with. It teaches u the very fundamentals. But my personal advise is to learn the basic and move on because:
2. Clubs here are hard pressed to organise outings frequently. Thus due to the limitations and constraints of organising group shots and teaching, they have to get models to pose for the shots. This is the reasons for seeing so many clich shots of salon photos but:
3. Salon are not contraint to those posed, clich shots that u see. Any well composed and tehcnically perfect shots can be classified as salon. The emphasis of salon is on beauty and techincal perfection.
9th February 2004, 11:07 PM
There are many who down play salon becasue they hate to be critised brutally by salonist of their work. Salonist belongs to one camp while u may belongs to the photoj type of work where beauty and technical perfection isn't the main issue.
But if one can apply salonist type of fundamentals into your kind of work, you will be a master. This is because u can't fault the principles - it is the uncreative photog for taking boring and clich photos.
9th February 2004, 11:20 PM
Originally Posted by Azure
While I appreciate your concern about undue flames and your want to discuss it in private, I do believe that your comment about "rubbish attached" is uncalled for especially when you have made your clarification to talk "with due respect". In fact, I find your comments outright rude esepcially coming from an old-timer CSer.
The qualifications/titles and "whatever rubbish" you mentioned are there for the recognition of a certain standard achieved with respect to photography. In fact, in certain countries, some of these qualifciations are actually accepted even for migration/citizenship applications, or for career advancement for that matter.
To that extent, I suppose you regard those with BScs, MBAs, BAs, MBBSes, phDs of having achieved "rubbish" for their work/studies/qualifications.
Whatever bad experience you may have gathered from your interaction with Salon "photogs" (I have a feeling that you don't regard them as true photographers, just as they didn't regard you as one too) might have clouded your judgement.
Or might I venture to say (at the risk of drawing some flames) that it is a matter of the "sour grapes" mentality at work here?
I am all for hearing what bad experience you might have encountered before. Please PM me and perhaps I might be able to clear some misconceptions that you might somehow gotten.
Dr Tan Eng Loy, M.B.,B.S, ARPS
Last edited by teL; 10th February 2004 at 01:11 AM.
9th February 2004, 11:22 PM
Check it out:
BTW what's the difference between studio and salon photography?
I like Kenghor's definition about the emphasis on beauty and technical perfection. Helps me understand the genre better.
10th February 2004, 07:56 AM
Very well said.
Originally Posted by kenghor