Portraits & Glasses As a Personal Story
Stereotypes may well be what they are – an exaggeration, but still, glasses on someone’s face are always associated with a particular memorable and important visual story. If the photographer’s goal is to tell (show) the sitter’s personal story, glasses can prove this story’s key point: they draw the viewer’s attention to the eyes and control the focus of this attention. And the importance of the way the eyes get accentuated in a portrait is trivially obvious.
We worked with one of Yekaterinburg’s top photographers Dmitry Arhar to complete the photo project below.
Our model was invited to work on several character representations at Veranda Studio. A ‘with’ and ‘without glasses on’ version was created for every two-picture set, the assumption being that glasses can be the little detail that makes all the difference in our character’s personal story. The frame samples come from the chain store FOCUS, with all the brand logos intact. It was the style expert Ulyana Meisner who commented on the final versions of the shots.
Model: Ekaterina https://vk.com/id4754081.
Project photographer: Dmitry Arhar https://www.facebook.com/dmitryarhar.
Frames: FOCUS http://www.focus.su/.
Location: Veranda Studio https://vk.com/foto_veranda.
Stylist: Ulyana Meisner https://www.facebook.com/uliana.meisner.
Cat eye glasses came into vogue in the fifties: they would be worn by an All-American housewife in a puffed-up New Look skirt. This kind of frame implies ease and playfulness. The model looks sexier to me in this second picture. The glasses make her overall appearance more stylish and add a bit of je ne sais quoi to it thanks to the pointy edges; they make her look intriguing. In terms of contrast, these glasses look very good on women with dark eyebrows and lighter eyes, as is the case in this photograph.
2. ‘Office Look’
This is a good look for a white-collar worker. The model’s clothes and her glasses look very well matched together. The young woman looks very feminine despite the dress-code-compliant outfit. These aren’t cat eye glasses, nor are they square or rectangular, which means they look a little ‘downplayed’ and have no sexiness overtones about them. Still, the frame is a little angular, which makes the model’s facial features look soft and delicate. This is a plus for a working woman, who is still expected to look feminine wherever she works. Rectangular glasses wouldn’t be suitable here, of course: they would only look foreign on the model and not as part of the overall ensemble. In this photograph, however, we can see just the right balance between looking businesslike and rational on the one hand and thoughtful and womanly on the other.
The young, up-to-date look in this third photograph also comes from the rounded frame. ‘Retro’ is quite the fashion these days. As for this particular set, the golden bridge of the frame plays up the vintage look here. These glasses would be perfect for someone working in IT or copywriting. The key strong points here are the softness of the entire ensemble, the youthful and easy-going appearance it conveys. One gets the impression the woman in the photo is either at college or has just started her first job at an office.
This would most likely be a photo of a lawyer, and a serious-minded and thoughtful one at that. The character is just a little short of assertiveness to be taken for a manager or a business owner. The impression one gets is similar to that emanated by the photo of a male model we talked about earlier. The frame is also really great for a psychotherapist, that is, for an impartial yet attentive listener in a face-to-face conversation.
Looking at all these portraits put together, we can say that in the first instance, glasses emphasize sexiness; in the second instance, it’s all about focusing on the character’s professional skills; the third photograph is a personal story, and the last one is all about empathy and communication. We can therefore model the reality of the picture using accessories, such as glasses, for example.
1. The photographs definitely represent four different stories and four different people (although, in point of fact, we can see eight different characters with and without their glasses on). Glasses are the little detail that shapes the character’s visual story and accentuates certain visual points.
2. Female portraiture can rely on glasses as a visual sexiness play-up/-down tool. The model looks very sexy in the last photograph because of the cleavage. However, in the version of this portrait where the model is wearing glasses the overall impression is a more balanced one: her glasses are the emphasis that attracts the viewer’s gaze to the face and away from the cleavage (which isn’t the case in the ‘without glasses on’ version). Glasses can dim the sexiness factor a little, make it more subtle and thus turn sexiness from something that is put on display into something that is used to manipulate.
3. One only needs very zeitgeist photos for both business purposes and Instagram posts, so glasses are a good way to a) add more versatility to your look and b) play up a particular feature you want to present here and now. A person wearing different glasses can always look in the know of the latest trends.
4. If a woman has a certain degree of awareness when it comes to her style and wardrobe, she’ll realize she needs several pairs. Once again, it’s obvious that different kinds of glasses create different characters.
We all tend to have a compartmentalized lifestyle. A proud new mother, for example, spends most of her time caring for the baby and only working outside the home a little, if at all. A career woman, by contrast, spends a lot of time at work and less time with her family (provided she has one) and probably dedicates a portion of her life to walks, cafes, and hobbies. So we choose our look and accessories depending on the ‘compartments’ in our life.
Generally speaking, glasses are part of our wardrobe. There are the basics, that is, the clothes we wear in places we spend most time at, and there are the ‘special occasion’ outfits. It makes sense to invest more in the basics, money wise. The same goes for glasses. You could get two or three ‘really cool’ pairs that look good in particular settings and get one pair that will add a bit of extravaganza to your appearance. Naturally, the things we wear more often and for longer periods should be as comfortable and as high-quality as possible; this is particularly true of glasses, where our eyesight and nose bridge are involved.
In these photographs, one and the same model with one and the same hair style looks very different, almost like several different personalities, because of her different pairs of glasses. The essential thing is, our glasses are right on our face and close to our eyes, so they play a big part in the impression we make. It takes five to ten seconds to make a first visual ‘assessment’ of the person we meet for the first time. This time is crucial, and sometimes this first impression is entirely responsible for our success or failure.
#glasses #eyeglasses #stereotype