In my day job this week I have been training people about how communication can be affected by prejudice, that is to say once we have made an assumption about the content of a message we tend to focus more on finding evidence to confirm our assumption than keeping an open mind and listening to the full story (which may confirm or confound that assumption).

Of course that doesn’t make me any less guilty of pre-judging, but I think I probably recognise it in myself more immediately.

Sunday’s shoot was a case in point.  Of the five models present, I had shot two before.  Jemma, who featured in yesterday’s post was working the first time I visited “The world-famous Bananastudio” when erotic photographer John Tisbury was the guest running the workshop.  Shortly after that I returned, this time to learn from fashion photographer John Barone.  Both of the Johns had brought the same model to work with, the never-ending pose machine that is Iveta Niklova, but she was joined on each occasion by more local girls.

barone-10One of those working the Barone shoot was Jenny, and I have to say I was disappointed with the results I achieved shooting her that day.  Not through any fault on her part I’m sure.  She took direction well.  It’s just a shame that I don’t give direction well!

On Sunday I struggled again with Jenny, still not really sure how to get the best from her.  Part of the challenge of course was the white dress she was wearing in the extremely dirty environment, but something else was at play.  Subconsciously I was recreating the difficulties of the first shoot.

What made it worse was that because I had shot other models in the morning, there wasn’t really much time to work with Jenny, particularly as she had a train to catch mid-afternoon which added to the pressure.  I think I shot less than a dozen poses with her.  Very disciplined of me.  I knew I had nailed on shot, but didn’t expect much more.

My preconceptions were shattered then when I came to process the results.  Shame we didn’t have more time.


My Racial Prejudice

It might surprise those of you who read this blog on a regular basis to find that I am frequently guilty of discrimination against those from other nations.

Given that I must have photographed representatives of a couple of dozen countries during this project, work with international students on a regular basis, and have worked on development projects in Africa it might be even more surprising, but the fact remains that I do often find myself stereotyping some people.

North Americans.

There’s something about fundamentalist Christian, gun carrying, Neo-Conservative, globally ignorant, pro-life, anti-Darwinian, patriarchal super power posturing that gets under my skin, and the trouble is that this stereotype sticks with me.

To be fair, I liked New Yorkers (there’s another sweeping generalisation!), but this doesn’t appear to have been enough to win me over.  That’s why it’s been great to spend some time this weekend challenging my assumptions with some great people from across the pond.

Today’s portrait is of Whitney, a business student from Arizona, who is studying overseas, demonstrating that you can be a leader without being arrogant, and taking an interest in other cultures.  She’s a very competitive volley ball player too.

Thanks Whitney for reminding me how small-minded I can be!