Authentic AF

AF is a superlative that’s frequently used by GenZ and Millenials to emphasize an adjective. It comes in acronym form and is used as a suffix.

It seems rather unnecessary to me but that could be said about a lot of things. To me, simply saying “authentic” is just as powerful at “authentic af.”

Then again, the word authentic has changed a lot since I did this portrait session on the outskirts of downtown Louisville in 1996.

Today’s version of authentic actually means “a simulation of authentic” for the purposes of bragging, marketing, or posturing.

An ad agency hired me to illustrate a concept using a man who had an intimidating presence. Rather than hire an actor, prop stylist, set builder, makeup artist, tattoo consultant, and stunt coordinator, I just hired Mr. C and his motorcycle.

This was back in the day when a creative decision could be made by a single art director instead of a committee. The AD agreed with my plan to cast a real guy because he felt that a simulation wouldn’t be believable.

I don’t recall using the word authentic during any phase of the project, but I do remember that Mr. C. was the real deal.

A lot of time has passed since that session. The ad agency is long gone. The AD is now a CD with a remarkable CV.

As for Mr. C, I have no idea where he is or what he’s doing today.

I do remember that he had two grandsons that are probably in their late 20’s or early 30’s today. So if you know a couple of young men named Harley and Pabst with a dominant authenticity gene on display, tell them there’s a great portrait of their granddad in my portfolio.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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