Melissa Ann Pinney photographs young girls in domestic and everyday settings. I don’t usually go for this sort of thing, but I liked her Girl Ascending series quite a bit. She chooses beautiful light and these portraits have a very relaxed, peaceful feel. Sometimes I feel there is a distinct though inarticulate difference between portraits of young girls taken by male vs female photographers. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I feel that here. These portraits put me at ease.
At any rate, her work definitely passes the Pretty Girl litmus test I’ve begun to apply to portrait photography. (I’m sure this has many incarnations already.) It goes something like this:
- mentally replace all attractive, youthful persons in frame with bad-skinned, gap-toothed, leering crones (or perhaps with, in a less pseudosexist version, gigantic toads)
- is it still a good picture?
- then it’s a good picture!
I suppose this defeats the purpose if you’re attracted to photography precisely because you enjoy portraits of happy attractive people, but, misanthrope that I am, that is not what attracts me to photography. The other possibility is that the test may give false positive after false positive for those who enjoy the twisted and strange for its own sake, but, well, then you’ve just discovered a thoroughly enjoyable mental exercise.