The Art of Persuasion – Robert A. Sobieszek.

These are the key points and quotes I sourced from The Art of Persuasion by Robert A. Sobieszek.

“Unfortunately, more great advertising photographs have been lost than have survived. This is due in part to the photograph being seen only as raw material to be cropped, overpainted, retouched and otherwise absorbed into the final complex of a print ad” (Sobieszek, 1988: 13).

“advertising photography has permeated our cultural consciousness. It reflects what we are and determines what we desire. It informs and offers models of progress and behaviour; it seduces and teases with promises of perfection. It feeds our imagination whether we permit it or not.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 13).

“During the forties and fifties, advertising affirmed its position as a highly influential tool of communication and persuasion and established the photograph as a principle weapon in its arsenal.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 14).

“[Advertising photography] is engaged in visualizing the things that unite us: our needs, our dreams and our apparently irrational motivations – and often produces works of exceptional beauty that emerge from the sharpest competition that has ever prevailed in the history of art.” – H. G. Puttnies, Art Critic, 1980. (Puttnies, 1980 cited in Sobieszek, 1988: 164).

“The simplest form of product advertising is to depict or describe the product as favourably or strikingly as possible, but as has been frequently pointed out, in a world where every competitor is marketing essentially the same product in equally attractive ways, there is really little chance of differentiating among them. Except one: with an unforgettable image.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 164).

“It is no longer sufficient to simply picture what is being advertised, no matter how beautifully lighted or composed or how humorously presented.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 165).

Generally, I felt that this book explored the photograph rather than photographs within advertising however I did manage to source a couple of quotes relating to how they work within adverts. I think the first important point to consider is how Sobieszek states “unfortunately, more great advertising photographs have been lost than have survived. This is due in part to the photograph being seen only as raw material to be cropped, overpainted, retouched and otherwise absorbed into the final complex of a print ad” (Sobieszek, 1988: 13). The appreciation for the photograph has disintegrated within adverts as it can be manipulated in so many different ways that they become meaningless, lost. Thinking of this in terms of how digitally manipulated photos are today, almost everywhere we turn, is it fair to say that the beauty of the photograph has been lost? Is it a fair argument to state it has become more about the manipulations for the purpose of the advert rather than the actual photograph itself?

Sobieszek also highlights how “advertising photography has permeated our cultural consciousness. It reflects what we are and determines what we desire. It informs and offers models of progress and behaviour; it seduces and teases with promises of perfection. It feeds our imagination whether we permit it or not.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 13). This is similar to many quotes I have encountered in my other readings of how it creates the perfect ideal for the consumer to long for. I like how he says ‘it feeds our imagination whether we permit it or not’ – do we as consumers have any control of how we interpret an advert. Of course we do. Do we? I would hope that I wouldn’t ‘fall’ for these manipulated images within advertising when I see them but then I wouldn’t have understood the ways they were manipulating me until beginning my research for my paper hence why this topic has been so interesting. If I wasn’t aware of these then yes, advertising is feeding my imagination without my ‘permission.’

“It is no longer sufficient to simply picture what is being advertised, no matter how beautifully lighted or composed or how humorously presented.” (Sobieszek, 1988: 165). After I found it so refreshing reading about the aesthetics of a photograph in an advert are just as important as its narrative from William Reedy, it was intriguing to see this contradiction. I feel it constructs a good argument as to why these other manipulations are being used within photographs in adverts to make it more appealing and enticing for the consumer as the photograph alone is no longer enough. However, the more these manipulations are implicated, the more the photographs become untrue. Would it be more valuable to rely on the aesthetics of an image to sell a product or continue using these manipulations?

Overall, I was left with mixed feelings about this book. It has again helped my understanding and included some good points when discussing photographs within advertisements, however so far I feel they are only repeating the points I have already discovered. Reflecting on the quotes I picked out has also left me with a lot of unanswered questions for myself and could encourage completely different arguments within my paper rather than enhancing the idea I am trying to share initially, therefore I am unsure as to whether I will be including any of these quotes in my paper.

Sobieszek, R A. (1988) The Art of Persuasion. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on January 26, 2015.

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