A Follow up on ‘Photographing Watches’

There is what we think of the product advertised (watches in this case but by extension any luxury product) and then there is how the photograph of this product was made. Notice I said “made” and not taken. There’s nothing about a photograph being “taken” here. It is made. Even better, it is constructed. Carefully, and craftfully, constructed.

The problem with expensive objects such as watches and other luxury products is that they represent a want rather than a need. Unless we are the intended audience, meaning those who purchase these products, we tend to look at them with a certain disdain.  We tend to approach them as objects that blasé people purchase because they have everything, because they are bored, and because they find excitement in owning what we consider to be  totally superfluous and unecessary.

This may or may not be true, it all depends where you are at and what you believe in. However, what is important is that just as much work goes into photographing a Big Mac (to take one example among many) as goes into photographing a luxury watch. Look carefully at the BigMac photographs the next time you are at a McDonald restaurant. The sesame seeds each looks perfect,  there is no “bald spot” and all the seeds are matched in color and shape . Hamburger buns don’t come that way. In regular buns seeds are randomly spaced. Some are missing. Some are split in half and others are afflicted with a variety of defects: wrong color, wrong shape, wrong refletance levels, etc. So what is done is the perfect seeds are picked from a large number of buns, then glued one at a time, using tweezers and a minute amount of glue, onto the bun that will be photographed.

The same is done for the cheese (goal: the perfect melt), the meat, the “special sauce”, the lettuce, the onions, the pickles, etc. Nothing is left to chance. Yet, this product is a need, not a want, provided we look at a Big Mac as food (we need to eat) and not at being a particular type of food (we may or may not like fast food or McDonalds).

The moral of these remarks? Photographs used to sell the products offered by large companies are not accidental and do not depict reality. Like cars and like a multitude of other products that are sold on the basis of an image, when we buy a Big Mac we never get one that looks like the one on the advertising.  No BigMac looks like the one that makes us want to buy.  That one is a construction, an idealization.  No matter how real it looks, it is not real.  The goal is to make it look appetizing, not to make it look like the ones coming out of the kitchen.

P.S.: This is a follow up to a previous blog entry titled Photographing Watches that you can read here.

Alain Briot

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