Inspired by light, passion and mystery. All images are copy-writed to myself, unless stated otherwise. No images may be used without consent.

Posts tagged ‘Richard Avedon’

Richard Avedon-Wild West Series

In 1978 glamour photographer Richard Avedon shot some portraits in the MidWest. The Amon Carter Museum in Forth Worth, Texas, asked him to follow up on those, and Avedon set out for the American West to portray what amounts to the reverse side of the American dream. The project ran until 1984. By then, Avedon had photographed 752 people in 17 states; a selection of 123 portraits constituted the eventual exhibition and the collection in this book. The illusion of equality and great opportunities for all, and the Hollywood-slash-John wayne dream of the good old pioneering West – a dream shared by a surprising lot of westerners themselves – are effectively shattered by these haunting portraits of barmaids, drifters, ranch-hands, prisoners, mental patients, Hutterites, coal miners, slaughter house workers, 12 year old girls looking twice their age, teenage boys handling guns and snakes, oil-rig workers, and many others alongside them. There is hardly a face here that is not marked by toil and hardship, the stark black-and-white detailing every crevice, freckle, rimple, mole and scar. As one commentator noted, the West is often represented by its landscape; here the faces are the landscape of the West, and, one might well suspect, its true landscape. Of course, similar portraits of ordinary people living under harsh conditions could be taken in many places in the world; the portraits in this volume take a significant part of their impact from the fact that they come from that “greatest nation on earth”, a land associated with glamour, enterprise, success and outward appearances, that we are used to seeing represented rather differently than we find it here.

Here, the great heroic cowboy dream is reduced to a shiny, oversized rodeo buckle worn by a skinny boy. Yet there is nothing condescending or patronizing about these images, on the contrary. The facial expressions mostly speak of deep earnestness and dogged determination, rarely of sadness, and most of the people we meet in this book exude an extraordinary power and pride despite their often dishevelled looks and sweat- and dirtstained clothes (others, however, have donned their best finery). But there is anger, threat, and undisguised, at times overwhelming machismo too, as well as an occasional subject who seems on the verge of tears, like oil field worker Bubba Morrison. The portraits are painfuly candid, often moving, and always artistically well-considered and visually beautiful. Review of Avadons Wild west book by Martin P


Richard Avedon Portraits

“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.

Andy Warhol Portrait

Lee Friedlander Portrait

Sandra Bennett twelve year old

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

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