“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”–Richard Avedon
I first saw Avedon’s work in a University lecture and I was inspired by how he manages to capture the subjects personality in his images, with his subtle usage of light. I decided to include him in my essay to compare and contrast how he uses light against how landscape photographers use light to capture the ‘personality’ of a place.
For more than fifty years, Richard Avedon’s portraits have filled the pages of the country’s finest magazines. His stark imagery and brilliant insight into his subjects’ characters has made him one of the premier American portrait photographers.
During the early years, Avedon made his living primarily through work in advertising. His real passion, however, was the portrait and its ability to express the essence of its subject.
As Avedon’s notoriety grew, so did the opportunities to meet and photograph celebrities from a broad range of disciplines. Avedon’s ability to present personal views of public figures, who were otherwise distant and inaccessible, was immediately recognized by the public and the celebrities themselves. Many sought out Avedon for their most public images. His artistic style brought a sense of sophistication and authority to the portraits. More than anything, it is Avedon’s ability to set his subjects at ease that helps him create true, intimate, and lasting photographs.
Famous for their minimalism, Avedon portraits are often well lit and in front of white backdrops. When printed, the images regularly contain the dark outline of the film in which the image was framed. Within the minimalism of his empty studio, Avedon’s subjects move freely, and it is this movement which brings a sense of spontaneity to the images. Often containing only a portion of the person being photographed, the images seem intimate in their imperfection. While many photographers are interested in either catching a moment in time or preparing a formal image, Avedon has found a way to do both.
I really like how Avedons images showcase the person in them. This is achieved by the minimalist background and bright lighting on their faces. He may have used a beauty dish to achieve the even tones on the face but to still capture some of the shadows that help us see into the persons personality. I will be using Avedon in my essay alongside photographers like Ansel Adams and David Hockney.
Research from www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/richard-avedon/about-the-photographer.com