Benefit Auction: Help buy a normal lens for the New Yorker Photography Department

Obama Inauguration Ball Photos by Platon
Obama Inauguration Ball Photos by Platon

Platon became a staff photographer for the New Yorker last year, primarily shooting black and white portraits on a white seamless background. Standing in the shadow of former New Yorker staff photographer Richard Avedon has never been an easy task, especially when working in Avedon's trademarked style. While Platon's portraits of military personnel last Fall entitled Service showed a range of full length portraits along with tighter detail shots and a sprinkle of documentary work, his latest series of Portraits from the Obama Inauguration Balls in the New Yorker led to some concern amongst the staff here at the Words photography blog. We all know that times are tough for photographers, but we're worried that perhaps either Platon or the New Yorker were forced to sell off their normal and telephoto focal length lenses on eBay? All of the shots in the inauguration ball portraits show evidence of being taken with a wide angle lens.

Now if you're shooting with a 4x5 camera, and are limited to one lens, a wide angle is a great choice. With a big negative you can always crop. But for a magazine that primarily features portraits, we really recommend a normal or telephoto lens for full length work. Female subjects will really appreciate the slimming effect that a longer focal length has on their hips, and those wearing sleeveless attire will be pleased by the reduction of the dreaded "trucker arm" syndrome. No portrait sitter wants to be burdened with the feeling that their hands look really big -- so until this benefit is over, we're advising all portrait subjects of the New Yorker to keep their hands in their pockets, and to stand as parallel to the camera as humanly possible to eliminate the risk of funhouse mirror head shrinking or enlargement.

Because we want to ensure that future portrait features in the New Yorker are a bit more flattering to their subjects, we're auctioning off a limited edition of 15 prints at a very reasonable price: the Mad Mouse Rollercoaster panorama will be available for the month of Februrary in a 5x20" print for $40 + shipping. Please inquire if you would like to help the cause. If the edition of 15 prints sells out, we'll be able to use the $600 to purchase the following items for the New Yorker photography equipment room:

  • A used 150mm f/5.6 lens for 4x5 ($200-250)
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8 AF lens ($90)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF lens $(140)
  • Bogen 055XB tripod ($160) -- raises higher than waist level, in order to not cut off portrait subjects' heads

By helping us purchase these important pieces of equipment, you'll not only be doing a big favor to the photographers who shoot for the New Yorker, you'll be doing a great service for over 1 million readers from all over the world. Won't you please purchase a print today. Thousands of future portrait subjects need your help!