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How to Shoot for Glamour

How to shoot for GLAMOUR - cover
Bakal, Carl, et al.
How to Shoot for Glamour
San Francisco: Camera Craft Company,
November 1955
"Picked up" at Dixon's Furniture Auction
in Crumpton, Maryland
July 2003

How to shoot for GLAMOUR - falsies page
Secrets of the trade

How to shoot for GLAMOUR - wedgie page
How to give yourself a
world-class wedgie

How to shoot for GLAMOUR - wedgie page
When stuffing your bra
with cotton just isn't enough

Nothing has ever demonstrated the concept of "you've come a long way, baby" for me more than this tome on "glamour" photography that was published in the exact month and year of my birth. Perhaps this book may be redeemed by its technical information about photography. However, the amount of condescension per page toward the female gender outweighs any benefit it may provide. I was thinking about highlighting the offensive parts of this book, but I began to realize that I would have to swab entire pages with my yellow marker. Clearly, it would have been more efficient to dip the whole book into highlighter ink.

Let's let the editor speak for himself:

"On only one point would I like to be dogmatic. you will notice that there are no pictures by women in this book. I have a deep personal conviction that only men can take exciting pictures of women. To take exciting pictures of women by showing them at their feminine best you have to stimulate them and this is generallly a man's doing."

It would be most entertaining to hear the gay/lesbian/bisexual community weigh in on that statement! Even I, a straight woman, take exception at that remark.

But it gets worse. Later, he clarifies the woman photographer's role. In a section entitled, "It Helps To Be A Man," we read that:

"I say 'men' because since the dawn of time, the best paintings, sculptures and photographs of the eternal female have been made almost exclusively by men. There have been a number of good female photographers but most of them have specialized in shooting children, men, skyscrapers, sharecroppers, and women's fashions, not women."

Don't you just love that backhanded compliment to the work of Dorothea Lange?

Just when I thought I'd read the worst, I came across this gem:

"The successful glamour photographer, then, should not only sincerely feel that Woman is Man's ideal of beauty and have the inclination to interpret this beauty in warm and inviting and exciting terms. He must also be able to mold what Aristotle described as woman's passive clay. For as the great philosopher said, "The courage of man is shown in commanding; that of woman in obeying ... As the poet says, "Silence is a woman's glory.'" So women, Silence! We're now going to talk about you."

Well, excuuuuuuse me! I may not be the photographer's ideal of beauty, but you don't see me being talked into giving myself a wedgie or letting a man clothespin my sweater behind my back!

Chapter Eleven, Posing the Model; I. The Psychological Aspects of Posing contains the following statement that might even make Mark Eden howl:

"There breathes no woman with soul so dead that she will not subconsciously swell with pride at the sound of a compliment. 'Flattery unflattens,' a photographer once told me. 'A compliment can help increase the bust size by as much as two inches.'"

I could have left the book out lying in the field at Dixon's Furniture Auction, to be hauled off eventually to the dumpster. Somehow, I'm glad I retrieved it, if only to work it over like this. I feel better, more empowered, already.

Copyright © 2000-2010, Julie Mangin. All Rights Reserved. April 2, 2016