Last month I started some contract work with The Whitefield Academy in Cobb County. The school is a private Christian institution that has a growing campus. The approach to the shoot was to produce photos that accurately represented a day in the life of a student. This meant pure photojournalism instead of posed shots. Posing is great for portraits, but if you want something to look truly authentic in a photo, it needs to be real. No amount of posing will get it quite right, and the viewer can usually tell.
For whatever reason, when people look at images, their brains try to process things that are wrong with it. If it isn’t real, they can usually figure out why. In video games, the grey zone between obviously computer generated and photo-realism is called “The Uncanny Valley.” In other words, its close enough to look real at a quick glance, but further inspection would reveal that something isn’t quite right. It applies to photography too. There are far too many little details in the real world, and if you miss one the entire illusion of realism is thrown off. That’s why its better to do it au-naturale.