I just read an article about a family portrait photographer, and one of his quotes really stuck with me. When talking about his Roadside Families series, Cooper stated that “I want people to look dated and I want them to age fast.” (Rangefinder, John Michael Cooper Captures Other Photographers and Their Families for Special Print Project, February 12, 2018).
I’d never really thought about that before, but I kind of love it.
It brought to mind this great photo of my friend Steve and his family. I remember so clearly visiting his parents’ home and seeing this awesome 15-year old photo of his family on the wall, with young Steve in a 3-piece corduroy suit complete with dazzling gold chain around his neck. It was so wonderfully, fabulously dated that we all couldn’t help but laugh. It was perfection.
These days, perfection has come to mean something else. It’s become boring. We’re trying to avoid trends, look so “vanilla” that our portraits are timeless and we can look back on our family pictures without stylistic horror.
Let’s face it; that’s never going to happen.
Besides, isn’t that horror half the fun? Don’t we want to look at a photo and be instantly transported back to the time when it was taken? Don’t we want to remember the terrible fashions, ridiculous hairstyles, unruly facial hair, and everything that went along with it?
John Michael Cooper even takes it one step further, encouraging his clients to “bring a personal item to reflect what you’re doing or what’s important to you at that time in your life.”
What a wonderful idea.
If we’re going to freeze time for a moment, let’s freeze it as it is – in all it’s wonderful, trendy, “we think we’re cool now, but 20 years from now we’ll be mortified” glory. Thank you, Mr. Cooper. If you need me, I’ll be right over here … wearing my distressed jeans, cutout shoulder shirt, Warby Parker glasses, and my Uggs.
I know, I know … Uggs are SO yesterday.