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Why shadow photos in media?

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited September 2015 in technique & style & stuff

More and more I am seeing photos of people, in A-list magazines and other publications, that have glaring harsh shadows, usually behind the subject, as though the photos were quick snapshots with overdone on-camera flash pointed at subject. They are horrible. What is with this? It's so obvious that it was definitely deliberate. Is this the new trendy thing to do? Do people like this? It's a mystery to me. I see it in both news stories and ads. Sometimes I think edgy is in even if it's bad. That 'different' is good merely for being different. Here is one from The New Yorker, online, probably in print edition as well. This one isn't nearly as bad as a lot I've seen. Any thoughts?



  • My guess would be that the photographers are only interested in the person/celebrity and are not that bothered about shadows, more important to get the quick shot rather than worry about 'I could have used bounce flash or a defuser'. If it's meant to be a portrait shot where the photographer has more time then maybe he/she should look for different employment!!
  • Yes, Thanks Barry, these are not paparazzi or even red carpet shots I'm talking about. For the most part. Some are yes. Mostly though these are staged editorial and advertising shots. Fashion a lot. Clearly -- at least in most cases -- the shadows are intended.  
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2015

    The interesting thing with that shot though, is the direction of the light source.

    If shot in portrait and flash in hotshoe, the shadow would have come in from camera left, throwing shadow to camera right, if normal 'right hand over top' to get portrait orientation.

    But the shadow here is on camera left indicating the light source came from camera right, so, either of 3 things, flash in hotshoe but awkward left over right so flash on camera right; flash on bracket which was orientated from camera right; or and unlikely, off camera flash again from camera right.

    Either way, it's a shit photo.

  • Yea, that's weird Trev. As a matter of fact, if you look at the shadow as it runs down his shoulder and arm, it looks fake to me. I wonder if it was Photoshopped in later. 
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Personally, I blame Terry Richardson. 
  • Yuck. The guy's a pervert and crappy photographer. I hadn't heard of him before just now. 
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