I’m a Rock Star, Baby I’m a rock star…..

Rolling Stone, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 2013

Rolling Stone cover, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, looking like a “rock star”

HERE AT that tog blog it’s our opinion that photography – existing as it does in a world of bland, soulless, marketised toss – has an absolute duty to be controversial.

It should make newlyweds weep and and old men smile. It should be beautiful, political, ugly, angry and whatever else you want it to be; just so long as it stops one person in their tracks and makes them question whether their entire life is totally devoid of art and love; of beauty and inspiration. (It should also be fun!)

Less than that and what you have is the artistic and intellectual equivalent of Simon Cowells haircut – insipid, uninspired, and utterly demoralizing.

Moral whatnow?

All of which explains why that tog blog isn’t concerned with the raging moral debate around Rolling Stone’s July front cover, nor the accusation that it makes suspected bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, look like a rock star.

It does actually make him look like a rock star,  but so what? In 1970 Rolling Stone won a National Magazine Award for doing the same thing with mass murderer Charles Manson, while in ’71 it made John Lennon look like a terrorist. So,  rock star/terrorist, terrorist/rock star – who’s counting?

Rolling Stone, John Lennon, 1971

Rolling Stone, John Lennon, 1971, looking like a terrorist

Of interest to us is not how best to flog an extra 10,000 copies of a formerly edgy but now past its sell by date magazine, but rather: Light. Yes, you heard us. Light, damnit! It’s what we’re all about.

If you are just starting out in photography the one thing that should be in your mind at all times, is light: How does it fall, is it hard or soft, is it golden or grey and a hundred other questions you should constantly be asking yourself until you no longer have to.


In the main image, for example – thought to be a ‘selfie’ – Tsarnaev is lit from above and to camera right (notice the shadow beneath his nose and chin.) The light is also soft and diffused.

So, how was it lit? Our best guess would be a window.  A good, old fashioned, no nonsense window.  Bowens don’t make them and Wex don’t sell them. However, they are good and we’ll talk more about them in later posts.

But for now, fellow togs, we want you to use the comment section to tell us what you think; not about the use of the shot, but about the shot itself.  Is it good, bad, or neither? Do you care, or could you really not give a monkeys? Tell us. We want to hear. Even your ennui and lethargy is valid, if you can be arsed to write it down.

A Competition (it is not)

Once you have told us, why not try a rock star/terrorist selfie of your own? Try to recreate the lighting in the Tsarnaev Rolling Stone shot. Or you can try John Lennon as a terrorist. Either way we couldn’t care less, just so long as you give it a go.

Rolling Stone, Charles Manson, 1970. Looking like George Harrison.

Rolling Stone, Charles Manson, 1970. Looking like George Harrison.

Use the contact page to send us a link to your Flickr feed and we’ll do the rest. Explain what lighting set up you used, and your camera settings. This place is about learning, remember, so your technical info might help somebody else make a really cool selfie before embarking on a mental bastard rampage of their own. Then you will be famous. Sort of.

We’ll post the best ones in our gallery, along with a link to your blog, Facebook page or website.

If it was a competition you would probably win a fancy new camera worth a couple of grand. But it’s not.

So you won’t.

(For more on ‘selfies’ visit The Daily Mash, which has recently published an insightful article about one of Russia’s maddest bastards, Vlad “The Bad Lad” Putin.)


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