Monday, April 21, 2008

Twice Told Tuesday - Fashion Dos and Don'ts Redux

In a continuation of last Tuesday's Twice Told Tales we again look at Fashion Dos and Don'ts. This time we leave clothing behind and discuss having your photograph taken if you wear glasses, how to wear your hair, and the ubiquitous profile portrait.

The Amateur Photographer & Photography
Wednesday, July 13th, 1921

"If you wear glasses do not remove them for the sitting. If you do, the result will be strained and unnatural looking eyes." I am sorry for the photographer who is confronted with a sitter vehemently insisting on wearing red velvet with lace trimming and a pair of glasses. Any reasonable photographer would prefer striped grey material and an unglazed face, although these are taboo.

"Don't arrange the hair elaborately." This is all right. The best plan is to remove the hair run it through the mangle, iron it flat, and glue it down on the skull. Nothing is more pleasing and effective than simplicity.

"Don't argue about the position." Right again. One of the worst people in the world to drive to argument is the man who is going to photograph you. He holds all the trump cards. If he tells you to stand on your head and look pleasant with your feet, the only safe course is to reverse yourself and do your best. It is no time for inaugugurating a debate. He knows perfectly well that your feet, bad as they are, are preferable to your face, and he is trying to give you the best chance he can see,

He may not actually photograph you in that position, but may have insisted on it merely as a subtle device for accomplishing the destruction of those wretched glasses you so obstinately declined to remove. Or he may hope that the red velvet outfit will turn inside out and give him a chance with the lining.

"Don't have a profile picture unless you know you possess an extremely good one, and not many people can boast of that." My correspondent informs me that he is one of the happy few who can boast of having a good profile picture. It is one of his great grandmother, and was cut with scissors from a piece of black paper. I am afraid he misunderstands the lady who concocted the "don'ts." he is assuming that she means what she says, which is absurd.

What she wants to say is that unless you possess a good side elevation you should not be photographed in profile. Here again, the advice is useless. the more appalling the design of one's profile the more anxious is one to be taken that way. It is those with the worst profile who place the most reliance on it. They know from observation what their frint view is like, and they assume that the side view can not very well be worse. This is a fake assumption, but they are beyond conviction to the contrary.

Much has been said about everybody having one side of the face superior to the other; but the difficulty is to find it. In my own case, I have looked at one side of my face and felt absolutely certain that the other side must be better; but when I turn round it is worse, and when I revert to the original view it is worse still. The more I turn round the worse things get.

The general intention may have been that we should all be fitted with one side of a face less bad than the other; but if so, it was not put into effect. It seems to me that, what with the trouble over pattern, colour, and texture of our clothes, the difficulties with hair and glasses, and the inevitable handicap of our face, the true Solomonic course is to refrain from being photographed at all.



Walrus. "Piffle."
The Amateur Photographer & Photography, July 1921, 40.


Bessie Haines by Gurney & Son, New York. Photograph. ca.Not Researched. Digital image. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007

Unknown Young Girl by Scholl, Chicago. Photograph. ca. Not Researched. Digital image. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008


Blogger Lidian said...

I enjoyed this so much - am sitting here laughing out loud (so it is a very good thing that I am alone in my little 'office'!). And as always, the photographs are the perfect accompaniments.

April 22, 2008 at 2:58 PM  

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