As an appendix to the Selling Nature Photography guide, I talked…
There are few things more polarizing than politics, gay marriage and breastfeeding. So in a week where Obama publicly supported gay marriage, we might as well look at breastfeeding, too, with two magazine covers from TIME and Babytalk.
Amazing portraitist, Martin Schoeller, shot TIME‘s May 21, 20-12 cover, which is already causing shockwaves through the Internet. Since this is a photography examination, we’ll keep to the photo rather than pontificating on the benefits of breastfeeding (numerous!) and whether this was an appropriate cover for the newsstand (no!). Oops, did I editorialize?
Schoeller explained in an interview that babies are typically shown in their mother’s arms while breastfeeding. “I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.” Since the point was to convey “attachment parenting,” I would argue that the cover is very successful. Does it convey the weirdness of this approach? Yes. Is it a well-composed and well-lit photo? Yes. Is it eye-catching, and will it create a buzz for TIME? Yes.
Ok, I can’t resist editorializing. The problem here is that breastfeeding advocates have worked very hard to emphasize the naturalness of the act, and to desexualize the breast. Putting a very attractive 26-year old on the cover is not helping the movement. And this is coming from a guy who loves breasts. (Did I just say that?)
Babytalk caused a similar stir in August 2006 with this cover photo (photographer unknown, sorry). Compared to the Schoeller photo, this one seems almost quaint. Composition and color are really good. I think the baby’s expression is great, and yes, it’s a breast, but it’s done very tastefully. As one commenter pointed out, “It could be an elbow.” Well, maybe a really fat elbow filled with milk.
Verdict: This is a tough one because if the point of these “shock” covers is to generate controversy and sell magazines, then I would argue that both are successful. They are also both well-composed photos, and I would argue that a bunch of moms might even like a photo of themselves posed like the Babytalk cover. But in the end, I’m gonna go with Schoeller because even I was shocked.
update: And for a good laugh, we can always count on our office mates at someecards:
Happy Mother’s Day!