"Photography has always reminded me of the second child... trying to prove itself. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art... that it was considered a craft... has trapped almost every serious photographer." – Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon, was a New York-born photographer who specialized in black & white fashion photography and portraiture. Unlike other master photographers, Avedon never completed his education. He ditched formal academics at the age of 17 to join the photographic section of the US Merchant Marine. He served as Photographer’s Mate Second Class and, for a couple of years, took identification potraits of the crew using his Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera (a present from his father). From time to time, he also photographed shipwrecks.
He developed his technical knowledge on photography and, soon, he set up his own studio and freelanced for different magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue – where he almost instantly became one of its eminent photographers. He developed his own retrospective style and one of the striking characteristics of his works was movement.
Avedon continually excelled in fashion photography and established his signature aesthetic as his reputation evolved; he presented faces, poses, and products with clarity and class. According to him, “My photographs don’t go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him.”
His glorious photographs resulted from the white confinement of his studio, where he meticulously controlled and maintained the lighting he desired for every painstaking sitting he conducted with his models. Below are a few of his black-and-white-yet-alluring-and-vivid masterpieces which encapsulated the world of fashion photography until this modern age. Now, swoon, ladies and gentlemen!
Which of these Richard Avedon photographs strike your liking the most? What other fashion and portraiture photographers would you like to be written about? Read more about the Best of the Best Series.