Photographers Throughout the Ages

Posted on:13 September 2018


Category:English, Photographers

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To put your heart and soul into your work

One can start with the sensual photographs corresponding to the liberation years of the sixties: at that time William Klein, David Bailey or Peter Knapp are witnesses of this social revolution. and Brigitte Bardot brought to St Tropez the very essence of this period.

Ten years later, as the woman frees herself, Helmut Newton expresses the masculine anguish of the woman who grasps the sceptre of power. With the grunge movement, the 80s are rather placed under signs of exacerbated cerebral. Glamorous fantasy is attacked by criticism of the glamour ‘ideal’ and the idea of luxury and consumerism is widely derided. Models look like drug addicts, posing with their torn clothes against an urban crisis backdrop.

Following the steps of Nan Goldin, photographers like Juergen Teller or Craig McDean develop a trashy style that has gone down in history. For the first time, fashion photographers are exhibited in museums and galleries.

Trash and grunge style created by Craig McDean
Craig McDean beauty shot trash pose

Head photographer …

Today, the photographer has returned to a more sophisticated style. A major change for the photographer is that he is no longer alone in front of his shutter. The work will no longer happen in a dark room where he or she had to develop his films as a physicist. The editing will be done using editing software like Photoshop and the computer has replaced the sensibilities of its silver paper/ take over its silver paper. It is with a lot of nostalgia that he still touches an Ilford movie or caresses the back of his first Leica camera. He was already an artist with his camera. Now, he has also become a computer scientist, a photo retouching artist, a magician of great fantasies that have arisen modern technology.

Everyone remembers the emotional reaction caused when it was learned that Claudia Cardinale, on the poster of the Cannes Film Festival, had been retouched to look slimmer. Her legs were stretched, her ankle was thinned and a piece of the thigh was gone. Even her feet narrowed. The magic of the computer; a photograph today is no longer thrown in the trash for a little detail as  we can erase, transfer, trim … The photographer is an orchestra leader who must handle many more techniques than their predecessors. At a time when everyone can make a beautiful picture with an iPhone, it is these skills that must make the difference. Is the shot sophisticated? Of course, photography does not only reference itself. Behind the pose of a model today, we still find allusions to the great art of Botticelli, Rembrandt, Renoir …

The influence of photography on the culture

Photography is positioned within an intense cultural network.

Group of diverse models interacting together
Steven Klein for Calvin Klein

For example, Steven Klein is an iconic photographer. At 52, we can often see his work in magazines such as iD, Numéro or W. He started his career by shooting a campaign for Dior in 1985 and then worked with Eva Mendes for Calvin Klein and Madonna for Dolce & Gabanna. In 2010, he directed Lady gaga’s music video “Alejandro” and more recently, in 2012, he directed the video for the launch of her flagrance “Fame”.His inspiration? While he was studying in art school, he studied the style of Picasso and Bacon and his work was largely influenced by the delusional imaginary that characterized Surrealism.

In addition to their culture of photography, great photographers have but also a graphic culture and know how to interpret the principles of architecture. And above all, like the models, they are observing and mimicking our society. When we take a picture we do not press a shutter but instead we create symbols that sum up a modern state of mind. In the 19th century, Victor Hugo created the myth of La Esmeralda … today, it is the photographer who must generate an extraordinary image that will challenge our imagination and trigger new fantasies.

The expert eye…

The photographer must be aware of the current trends and express his emotions through his work as well as his critical gaze and reflection. In any case, his function has become major in our society of images. It is the photographer who creates the icon. We remember Roger Vadim’s film:

The photographer is a God who creates the woman. He gives his vision of women and at the same time influences the image and the existence of women.

Helmut Newton, for his part, gave birth to the myth of the domineering woman. And above all, he brought the fashion picture outside the clichés of the model posing on a beach: “A good fashion photography must look like anything but a fashion photograph. A portrait, a souvenir photo, a cliché of paparazzi” confided the master.

Helmut Newton conveys the idea that women are dominants and powerful
Powerful woman by Helmut Newton

The fashion photographer enters the staging of his/her model. No more dull pictures. We do not sell, we awaken the senses. The garment is now only a detail in the composition of the photograph. All around him, he sells a dream world in which a fashion designer lets you in.

It is for this reason that the photographer is primarily an artist. And who says artist says art market. With all the possibilities that the art market offers. A fashion photographer today may have difficulties making ends at the end of the month and receive 600,000 euros for a publicity photo like Peter Demarchelier or Peter Lindbergh! Some prints of Helmut Newton easily reach 400,000 euros …

So sharpen your eye quickly … This is where the Eldorado is!

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Thierry A.


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