I was wandering through a library used book sale in Marin a week back and came across Communication Arts Photography Annual 1986. I just grabbed it, didn't dig into it, and really I thought it could go either way. Get your hands on something like The Workbook or The Black Book or anything overtly commercial from another era...the 90's, the 80's and it often times seems like it is dripping with every bad commercial trend of the time. Every trope, every trick, every concept, new and time worn, will be worked over and over in those source books.
There is a philosophy that commercial photography has a short shelf life, so it often grabs from the current, looks stunning at the time, but doesn't age well. But that's all good, because its commercial, and that is what it is, right? We need bombs going off...and we need'em now.
Then there is the idea that photography at its best should be timeless and classical...even lighting something artificially could date it fast. And this school is strong for sure. Do all the pictures made in this philosophy look the same? Well yes and no. Of course there are always the people who simply do it best. And when you see that done, there really isn't any question that it is a righteous path.
So really there is no final answer. But here I was happily surprised to dig into CA 1986 and essentially love it. For me, '86 was my second year of college as an art major, and CA isn't really anything that would have crossed my radar at the time, so alot of this work is striking me anew. The best of the stuff doesn't look dated at all, and then other images are dated in a wonderful way. Every book has a star, and it seems that photographer Chris Callis was the defining voice of this edition....a great view into a moment in time.
I've attached a few of my favs: iconic image from Pete Stone / Wieden & Kennedy, Stephen Shames / Chicago Magazine, R. J. Muna / The Blake Agency, Jean Moss for Arnold Goodwin Communications, Chris Callis for Rolling Stone, Chris Callis again for LGFE Advertising, Stan Klimek for Cochrane Chase Livingston Agency.