Monday, October 29, 2012

More Navel Gazing

Eugene is hosting this year's SPE NW Regional Conference, November 1st - 4th, 2012. It should be great fun. Photographers from all over the Northwest will be in town. Speakers include Arthur Tress, Lucas Foglia, Justyna Baydach, Dan Powell, and many more including myself.

Wait. What? Me? Yes that's right. I've been roped into public speaking, which is definitely not my forte. 

Fortunately I think my topic --Innie/Outie: A Photographic Profile--  may be stimulating just by virtue of the fact that it doesn't get discussed much. In fact after many months recently researching this topic I have found no evidence of previous study. So my talk on Saturday may be the only opportunity for photographers to inform themselves.

Classic Outie: Photographer best suited to direct recording
Photo: Barbie Plankenhorn
My basic hypothesis is that there is a strong connection between belly button morphology and photographic style. If we divide photographers into two camps --Innies and Outies-- those with Innies generally tend to shoot introspective scenes while the Outies tend to prefer direct recording. If you want to put this in terms of the classic Szarkowski study, Outies shoot windows while Innies shoot mirrors. 

If that sounds a bit crazy, consider for a moment that Paul Caponigro, Jerry Uelsmann, Danny Lyon, Ralph Gibson, Judy Dater, Nancy Rexroth, Robert Mapplethorpe and Robert Rauschenberg all had Innie belly buttons. What about Lewis Hine, Gary Winogrand, Henry Wessel, Tod Papageorge, Walker Evans (Reportedly a 3 cm deep belly button), Diane Arbus, Lee Freidlander, Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Edward Ruscha, and  Joel Meyerowitz? I probably don't need to tell you. Outies. All of them! Coincidence? The learned scientist knows that there are no coincidences.

Classic Innie: Photographer best suited to introspection 
Of course it's not a hard and fast rule. There is some overlap between the styles. But generally the relationship holds true far beyond what might be expected statistically. My studies demonstrate a clear cause and effect. 

The exciting thing is that my findings are not only descriptive but potentially prescriptive as well. Clients might use belly button shape to choose a wedding or portrait photographer, depending on their needs. Or photography programs might use the shape of a person's belly button to guide students to their best-suited areas of interest. Innies might be led to conceptual or sculptural photography, while Outies would take courses in straight documentary photography. I know what you're thinking, and don't freak out everyone! I'm just throwing out examples of how my study might be utilized. If you don't like it you're more than welcome to come up with your own belly button study, so long as it's supported by science.

This is just a brief summary. I will go into much more detail during the lecture about my exact research methods, belly button measuring tools, the potential for changing belly button morphology, and what this all means for photographers of the future.

My lecture is this Saturday, 11/3, at 3:30 PM. Location TBA. Come up and say hi after. I'm always available for belly button consultations, whether informally or by appointment.

No comments: