This made Laurie think about Diane Arbus, a well-known photographer who specialized in photographs of freaks and also of “ordinary” people. The deliberate intention with which Arbus humiliated her subjects can be seen in this picture, among many others.
Arbus uses her camera here to distort her subjects in a lie as absolute as an advertising artist can use Photoshop to create the goddesses and gods of the magazine covers. Arbus, a mistress of the ugly caricature, demeans these models by how she depicts the body and clothing signatures of their class.
Cameras don’t have to lie. Photography can provide a reality which is mediated through the artist, and therefore constrained, but nonetheless evokes a truth about the model. The kind of work we support is the alternative to this two-pronged evil: not the beautiful stereotype of what we cannot be nor the ugly caricature that laughs at what we are, but the confirmation of the beauty that’s really there.