West Des Moines, Iowa, US
I was recently in a fight with a local high school over the "acceptable" backgrounds for senior yearbook photos. The yearbook advisor was attempting to establish a standard for "plain, blank, neutral" backgrounds. She was rejecting every photo that was not a "passport" image.
To prep my case, I went to school libraries and reviewed a number of old yearbooks. The background issue aside, I noticed something else that made me curious. In very old yearbooks, all the portraits were made with the eyes "off camera", staring off into space. In newer yearbooks, all portraits were made with the eyes direct in-camera.
In my area (Midwestern US), the change appeared to occur sometime in the late 1970's. In my own yearbook of 1965, we are all staring off into space. In my wife's 1973 yearbook, there is a mix or about 25% in-camera eyes and 75% off-camera eyes. In my son's 1989 yearbook, it's 100% in-camera eyes.
So I'm curious about why this change in portrait style occured, and how it varies by location and time. Would appreciate hearing the insight and experience of others. What style is most common in Europe, South America, or Asia? Has it changed in other countries as it did in the US?
Feb 18 13 10:56 am Link
Rīga, Rīga, Latvia
In my year eyes were in camera. I'm in Europe
I think eyes-off camera was "old fashioned style" (I don't mean it in negative way). Because I remember my great-grandmother and her friends etc. had all her "passport style" photos with eyes off-camera. It ads a bit artistic value to photo.
Feb 19 13 12:17 pm Link
Lynchburg, Virginia, US
1964, a graduating class of 15 country bumpkins. Five are looking at the camera; the rest are bird-watching.
Feb 19 13 02:05 pm Link
Graduated High School in 2008. Eyes toward camera.
Feb 26 13 10:16 pm Link
New York, New York, US
That's a great observation. I am not sure why that shift happened, do you think that the new look is favorable compared to where we came from?
Feb 26 13 10:19 pm Link
Solstice Retouch wrote:
I think the eyes away from camera look feel dated. Specially in a portrait setting, as opposed to, say, a fashion setting... because it is a trend that comes and goes, while eyes on camera never goes out of style.
Opps... double post.
New York, New York, US
Jorge Tamez wrote:
I agree with you, on the yearbook issue.
Feb 27 13 01:36 am Link