It’s Not Just Leica…

Dixie Dixon would photograph her stuffed animals as a child. Now, she’s one of fashion photography’s brightest stars, and one of the first sixteen Nikon Ambassadors in the United States. “I don’t think I’d be myself without being a photographer,” the native Texan explains.

If you’re gonna claim to be someone to aspire to photographically, and in doing so claim some affinity with the glory days of photojournalism by appropriating its technology (in this instance a plain prism 60’s era Nikon F), then at least satisfy us that you know how to operate the camera. To begin with, you might want to learn where you look into the plain prism viewfinder.

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not ragging on this young lady simply because she’s ‘attractive’ in a social media sort of way. I’ve looked at her work, and it’s competent, although nothing special, nothing you won’t see thousands of times over wherever you look. It certainly doesn’t stand out in a way that would warrant a cush advertising gig with Nikon. I suspect she’s a “Nikon Ambassador” because she’s cute and social media savvy. In fact, I’m positive.

Let’s call it the “Overgaardization” of photography as a practice. Being a photographer is now a ‘lifestyle.’ It’s about being hip and technologically and media sophisticated. It’s about ‘branding’, about creating a narrative about yourself that in most cases has nothing to do with reality. It’s about creating the reality. It’s how some blue-collar woman with a high school degree from some backwater town becomes “Princess Joy,” or her grifter husband goes from working in a sawmill to claiming he’s royalty…and a company like Leica, inheritors of a proud photographic legacy, embrace them as spokespersons for their ‘brand.’ It’s all about being ‘beautiful’ and using beautiful things and having those beautiful things define you. That’s why you should buy your Nikon or your Leica. It’s called selling the sizzle and not the steak.

As for the quality of photographic output, basically irrelevant now, given how easy we can duplicate a look or a style with a few keystrokes. Anyone can do it competently. Just push a few computer buttons and we’re all Richard Avedon. What’s really important is being thought of as hip while doing it, and that means carrying the correct camera and looking the right way while you do so. Knowing how to use it, apparently, optional.

20 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Leica…

  1. JamesP

    Wow, I first thought this was advertising from the ’70s – that overall warm/yellow look and the corny poses.

    Reply
  2. Dogman

    But the girl knows lenses. The third picture shows her with a Nikkor 85/1.4D, one of my all time favorite lenses of any brand. With her looks and that lens, she kinda wins my heart.:-)

    Reply
  3. Tam

    I mean, she knows where the viewfinder is, but the camera’s not the subject of the photograph, and the prop can’t be allowed to obscure too much of the subject.

    Reply
  4. Lee Rust

    I’ve been in the radio business for almost 50 years and the same thing has happened with making music as you see here with making pictures. Style over substance. If video killed the radio star, what exactly was it that killed the photography star?

    Reply
  5. Keith Laban

    That should have read

    The future of Leica, Nikon, et al, doesn’t depend on aging curmudgeons – myself included – with selective memories of what used to be.

    Reply
  6. Nick

    Advertising, no more, or how to connect to idea of beauty, wealth, fame, happiness, you name it… with a product.

    Nothing new under the sun.

    Reply
  7. Pieter de Koninck

    I went to her website. Competent, usual glamour/beauty and lifestyle work (not sure I would call it fashion, really). What I find revealing is under the “ABOUT” section, everything is written with initial caps. It looks ridiculous to me, and has to say something about her (and I know, she probably didn’t even write it)–it reads ego-driven, just a caps-lock key away from shouting.

    Reply
    1. Rob Campbell

      Pieter, that’s what fashion is and has been since maybe the late 50s. In a way, it’s a far more honest take on what, ultimately, is all about moving clothes from racks to backs.

      Prior to that era, and lingering on its deathbed into the early 60s, it was presented as being wholly about impossibly thin ladies playing at duchess, ivory cigarette holder in hand, their knees bolted firmly together. (Someone famous said that about their knees, but I forget who it was.) Knees bolted together may never have reached the point where such clothes might have been theirs. It was also stupid: haute couture is so expensive that its genuine market is almost negligible. It was the magazines that provided the oxygen, the brands that provoided the hydrogen, with the readership making up the other gasses, mostly desire, that made the idea of fashion publishing a reality. It then turned to off-the-peg clothes and thank God for that, or I might never have got my photography act off the ground.

      Sadly, nothing good lasts for ever, and we are now in the time of women with plastic skin, and limbs and features constructed in yet another part of the computer ptogramme. The good bit is that as time compresses so, we are allowed comparison, now, with the work as it changed through the decades – more or less. We can draw our own personal if not private conclusions, which is a nice thing to be able to do.

      Don’t misunderstand me: though I dislike the contemporary way that models are made to look, I also love Photoshop more and more. As a tool, when not abused, it’s a wonder of possibilities for the stretching of imagination and rendering possible so much that was once not.

      Rob

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    2. Tam

      The world of “Social Media Influencers/Brand Ambassadors” is a weird one, with lots of its own internal drama and odd conventions and observances. The funny thing is that it’s been around for such a short time and is not even any longer considered to be cutting-edge marketing. The industries that are finally embracing it heavily just now…the shooting (firearms) sports industry and photography…are showing themselves to be stodgy and on the back side of the internet marketing curve.

      A company buying themselves some synthetic social media ambassadors to generate fan engagement on the web in mid 2020 is as every bit as hip and with it as marketing themselves with love beads and acoustic folk rock in 1977.

      “How do you do, fellow kids?”

      Reply
  8. Slow Joe Crow

    I guess it’s time to cover the nameplate of my Nikon FM with tape like I did in the 80s, or just ignore this and concentrate on making a good photo.

    Reply
    1. Keith Laban

      I always cover all identification tags regardless of manufacturer.

      As an aside, Leica are introducing a new variant on the M10 camera this week: the mind just boggles.

      Reply
    2. Rob Campbell

      Joe, my Nikons, since the advent of my first digital one, have had the name covered with electrician’s black tape. One day, I just took umbrage at free advertising. It was when those broad straps came decorated with big names and model numbers. Let’s face it: the late Peter Lindbergh gave the D810 a helluva lot of video coverage via that strap…

      Apart from free advertising, I felt such an ass wearing those silly big logos.

      Anyway, the narrow “leather” strap from my 60s cameras does a better job when wound around my wrist than could a broader one.

      🙂

      Reply
  9. Rob Campbell

    Getting back to Dinkie Dixie: her work is very much of the moment – as I far as I can judge that from my St Helena – and I’m sure that like many people, had she access to the real top models of the day, she would do very nicely, a situation that’s always haunted folks not in the magic circle.

    Technically, she represents the antithesis of what I like: it’s all far too crisp and mechanically electronic-looking, if you see what I mean. Of course, if you want to be a rep for a camera maker, then you are obliged to boast visually and pyrotechnically 24/24, which is a bit of a drag. Beautifully without soul, I guess you might say. But then where do you find soul in business today – even music has turned its back on that.

    It made me wonder a little about what I’d do if my remaining digital camera gave up the ghost. Is the look of that lady’s work as it is because her cameras own too many pixels? Have we reached overkill so that everything looks like it’s been shot on 8 x 10? If so, how awful.

    There is much to be said for a bit of earthiness!

    Rob

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  10. Paul Storer

    I ran a gallery for a couple of years. The Gallery was quite suburban and mostly local artists (many very talented) but some where better at the Social Media thingumy and these artists produced work which was competent and similar to others. I referred to this as “Emperor’s New Clothes” art. We seem to have this here. She is young, attractive and very very good at social media. Her work actually doesn’t matter because she meets the three attributes.

    Sad Sad world

    Reply

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