Find Out Why the Photographers in This Ad Shot a Man in Six Completely Different Ways

Canon's study in perception

Canon Australia has released an ad that highlights how one critical piece of information can dramatically alter how photographers perceive—and shoot—you.

Watch it below:

"A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it," the piece concludes.

Fair enough. Like anyone else in the business of conveying a message, photographers will inevitably shoot people differently based on the information they're given. That can dramatically change the appearance of a subject. This isn't really worth assigning a moral judgment; it just creates a shorthand that gives viewers access to who the person is (or claims to be). That's the service you're paying for when you hire a photographer.

There's a bit of Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" in this: It's one of those setups where the viewer has more information than the people in the ad, so you're an insider on what's happening. The treacly music passive aggressively highlights every moment in which the photographers unwittingly rely on the lie they were told to frame their shot. Then there's the humbling reveal, and reflections on the "learning."

But all's well that ends well. The piece is a promotion for The Lab, whose tagline, "Shifting creative thinking behind the lens," follows the concluding phrase. The tagline, in turn, is followed by the words "No one sees it like you," as if Canon wasn't really sure where to land in the end. It condemns a bit, then changes its mind: Just kidding! Canon backtracks. You're not myopic; you're special! 

While we're uncomfortable with the ad's dominant tone, which suggests photographers impose some kind of disproportionate prejudice on the subject, The Lab's promise merits pursuing—to help you "shoot outside your comfort zone" with experiments meant to make you think differently. Mixed messages aside in this case, it's always worth taking a closer look at how we're taught to capture and convey information, then ask ourselves how we can play with those rules.