June 17, 2011

Don't Judge an Article by its Pictures?

When I first saw this picture below on the Guardian website, I thought the article it was headlining was focusing upon Indian fashion; the design that the model is wearing seemed reminiscent of Masaba Gupta, who has a penchant for flamboyantly mixing up colors with unusual, eye-catching monochromatic graphic prints. There was a sub-heading though which mentioned faith-based style and I was curious as to what relevance this particular design/Indian fashion had to do with the subject.

However, when clicking on the article link, it was focusing instead upon something quite contrary to what I had imagined; the article was talking about a team from London College of Fashion researching Modest Dressing. The issue is pertinent and relevant in itself but I am more perplexed by as to why they chose the image that they did for the article.

The model in the image is wearing a saffron-hot pink jacket, printed tunic, and electric blue churidar/cigarette pants. An enormous red bindi obscures much of her forehead, adding further drama to the hectic visuals of the outfit itself. I am just curious as to why the photo-editors decided to place this picture as the sole accompanying one in the article? True, the article focuses on modest dressing and it is largely in regard to modestly dressed Islamic/Christian/Jewish women and the impact their particular clothing consumer choices have upon the online retail world. The outfit in the picture is certainly modest, sticking to the general definition of the word. Yet, surely, would it not have been more appropriate to locate and place pictures of women/designers,style-houses whose particular look/style serves as inspiration for those women who would like to dress modestly and yet, still remain in sync with the season's trends and style statements? For example, one of the blogs mentioned in the article, Hijab Style talks about how this season's French Connection offerings will enable women to embrace the season's hottest trends (the maxi skirt/dress and palazzo trousers)without compromising upon their style principles and beliefs.

The blogger uses this picture below as an example:

I wonder what qualified the first picture as to be an apt accompaniment - was it the huge red bindi, which marked it out be the signifier of the Hindu faith? The representational picture totally misses out on the point of the article.

While submitting my articles, I am accustomed to sourcing pictures and choosing which ones will best represent and embody the spirit of the story: it is imperative that the pictures reflect the essence of the story. As a reader, I also find the accompanying visuals contributing towards a greater understanding of the story simply because the relationship between the visual and the written text imbues the story/subject with a certain texture that an entirely visual or written story could not have done. For me, as in this case, an image that distinctly jars with the spirit of the article definitely weakens the impact of the article.

Would you agree? How important are the pictures to you, as the reader - or does the written word ultimately hold precedence?

Images courtesy Guardian and Hijab Style

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