Stories

Cabbage Leaf

Edward Weston

One of the most influential American photographers of the 20th century, Edward Weston has had a significant impact on the history of photography. One of Weston’s much-quoted mottoes is “Presentation instead of interpretation,” meaning an attempt to illustrate things as they are in order to show their essence allowing the viewer to see beyond the object. Weston started making a series of monumental close-ups of seashells, peppers, and cabbages, showing their sculptural forms through photographic means during the late 1920s. These particular photographs demonstrate Weston’s extraordinary sense of the texture of surfaces, which he depicted with a superb richness of varying black-and-white tones. As demonstrated in Weston’s images and writing, no other vegetable or object seemed to have such appeal and lasting power for him as that of the cabbage. Weston began making arrangements with cabbage in the summer of 1927 and he would finish working with them in 1936. Writing excitedly in the early 1930s he said:

Cabbage has renewed my interest, marvelous hearts, like carved ivory, leaves with veins like flames, with forms curved like the most exquisite shell…In the cabbage I sense the entire secret of life’s force; I am baffled, emotionally excited, and, because of my way of presenting, I can communicate to others why the shape of the cabbage is this way and no other, and what its relationship is to all other forms.

Even though Weston believed in presentation and not interpretation as being of artistic concern to him, it is his exquisite compositions of natural objects that frequently enthrall viewers because they evoke ambivalent interpretations by associations of forms. Technically, what enabled Weston to make close-up, razor sharp images was his use of an 8 x 10 inch view camera, his method of lush printing, and using various types of printing-out papers which could capture the copious amount of information that was in the negative. Later his negatives continued to be printed by two of his sons, Cole and Brett Weston, who became famous photographers in their own right. Cabbage Leaf is included in the collections of such esteemed institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago, ICP at George Eastman House, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art of Kansas City, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern. It remains one of the most important and exemplary images in not only the oeuvre of Edward Weston, but also in the lineage of fine art photography.

Adapted from "Edward Weston: Photographs" by Amy Conger


Nude on Sand Oceano

Edward Weston

"Think of this as a very shallow space sculpted by the prone body of the woman. Light is falling directly from above, so that the shadows function as outlines, making it look as if she has been drawn onto the sand. One of the most committed artists in the history of the medium, Weston took time to establish himself. From around 1906 he was a door-to-door portraitist, and then a pictorialist, making soft-focus pictures. In the mid-1920s he became a leading proponent of ‘straight’ photography, and in 1932 a founding member of the Californian Group f.64. The ‘straight’ aesthetic dispensed with impressions and ideas in favor of things which were scrupulously registered and yet always had enough formal ambiguities to make them interesting. After returning from a period in Mexico, Weston lived between 1929 and 1934 at Carmel on the Pacific coast, where he made pictures based on the eroded rocks and weathered vegetation of the shoreline."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press


Egg (and Bone)

Edward Weston

Probably on January 30, 1930, Weston made a close-up of an egg balanced on a bone. This earlier photograph had a dark background, and the arrangement was not quite so symmetrical. He had been quite satisfied with it. The irregularities of the bone base were emphasized, in contrast to the flower-like qualities in this version, which Weston photographed straight on as if it were a religious article.

After returning from a trip south that had interrupted his work with mushrooms, he created this arrangement. By February 23, it was stuck in his mind. Within two weeks he had passed judgment: “no still-life excited me, not after doing the egg and bone successfully.” After such praise for his still life, it is interesting that he made only three prints of this and it may be the least known of all his Project Prints.

Adapted from "Edward Weston: Photographs" by Amy Conger


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Pepper No. 30

Edward Weston

Tenderly, Edward inscribed the print of this he gave to Sonya Noskowiak, his student, companion and lover: “A mi querida (to my dear lady) and apprentice- whose early works show promise of and important future. She discovered this pepper for me- watched the long struggle to see it well- I dedicate the first print to Sonia with my love- Edward. Carmel, August 1930”.

He took at least thirty different negatives of peppers- all on four days in August, 1930. He credited Sonya as his temptress, his pepper supplier. On the second day, August 3, she brought him two more. While arranging one of these, he finally solved his background problem. From then on, Weston usually used a tin funnel to hold the pepper, no longer did he balance it against a muslin backdrop or a piece of white cardboard.

Weston made at least twenty-five prints of this image, making it his most popular pepper. There are many reasons for this: the long, smooth, barely turned surfaces; the glow of the light unpredictably on the firm skin; the gentle “S” curves- all factors enhanced by the almost exaggerated contrasts between light and dark, concave and convex, abstract and tactile, the firm, waxed surfaces touching the scratched tin. The associative possibilities are, of course, endless. Even the rotten spot on the lower right of the back of the pepper does not detract from the sensuous and sensual intensity. Instead, the spot grounds the subject, heightening the tension between subject and form as well as ideal and real.

Adapted from "Edward Weston: Photographs" by Amy Conger


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Kale Halved

Edward Weston

While Weston was in San Francisco to see his exhibition at the De Young, he discovered Kale: the “most extraordinary curly-leaved cabbage”, he called it, and he photographed it around December 13. Henrietta Shore liked his still life of kale better than his earlier one of conventional cabbage, but he responded: “I think it is a ‘knock out’ but no more so than the first.”.

Adapted from "Edward Weston: Photographs" by Amy Conger


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Oceano

Edward Weston

The sensuality of the curves and the intensity of the textures are reiterated in the arched, reified silver light that defines real space in a nearly abstract design. A popular image, it was also one of Edward’s favorites; he gave it to Christel Gang for Christmas in 1936 and submitted it to photographer Willard Morgan for consideration at Life Magazine.

Adapted from "Edward Weston: Photographs" by Amy Conger


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Laundromat

Robert Farber

"This is another image in the fashion series and was shot in Chelsea. When the client came in with the model to ask how I would like her hair, I said, "Just like that. Leave it in the rollers...she's in a laundromat!"

By Robert Farber


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Walking the Dog

Robert Farber

"This is from the same series as 'Laundromat' and 'Playing Pool.' It was shot in the Meatpacking District. The day was rainy and the wet streets perfectly helped to enhance the scene. That along with the bulldog being walked by a well-dressed woman creates a juxtaposition between all the elements."

By Robert Farber


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Seeing Montana

Robert Farber

"To me this image has special meaning. It's an image of someone I was very close to. She took me back to her roots in Kalispell, Montana and that's where I captured her amongst the land where she was raised. Not only is it a special gallery image, but it's also in my book 'Natural Beauty, Farber Nudes'"

By Robert Farber


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Tongyi with Conch Shell, Sepik River, Papua, New Guinea-2010

Alison Wright

"Quietly poised, this is Tongyi, who lives in a village along the Sepik River. I met him as he helped his grandmother grind yucca and was drawn to his gentle tenacity. Tongyi walks with a limp. Years earlier, he fell while collecting coconuts and his leg never set right. It doesn’t slow him down. He greets each sunrise by blowing his conch shell. His boar-tusk necklace resembles one his grandfather wears. While his grandparents are his caretakers, to watch Tongyi’s kindness towards them, it’s clear that he’s also caring for them."

By Alison Wright


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Tibet Girl Near Manigango, Kham, Tibet - 2005

Alison Wright

"I have traveled to Tibet nearly every year for the last twenty years. On this trip I was driving in the remote eastern region of the Tibetan Plateau when I saw this young girl, part of a crowd returning from a horse festival. It was pouring rain, so I brought her to a nearby school to take her photograph. She was so small that the light from the window barely reached her; I had to stand her on a desk. Even at the age of four, she had a face that seemed to express the underlying sadness of a culture that has been so challenged. Yet she had a look of resilience and tenacity well beyond her years."

By Alison Wright


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A Geisha and Her Apprentice Maiko, Kyoto, Japan 2005

Alison Wright

"This series of photos depicts an apprentice maiko, Komomo or “little peach,” in training with her onee-san “older sister.” Yachiho-san is a fully trained geisha, or geiko as Kyoto’s geisha are known. Komomo is still an apprentice maiko, (“dance child” or “half-jewel”) and as part of her training spends twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about five years studying the formal arts such as dance, music, poetry. As geisha, Yachiho-san and Komomo’s job is to entertain clients with their ornate elegance and finely trained talents. Here in their traditional giesha house or okiya, dressing for the evening is time consuming. As their kimonos can weigh up to thirty pounds and trail twenty-five feet in length the girls have a strong male dresser to help. Once becoming a geisha the maiko cuts her hair and then dons a wig instead of wearing this elaborate hairstyle with her own hair. I was invited to enter the mysterious world of these artisans and access some private time with the girls as they prepared for their evening functions. Watching their interactions I came to understand the public’s fascination with their mesmerizing beauty and delicate, ephemeral mannerisms."

By Alison Wright


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Malagan Ceremonial Mask, Lissengung Island, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, 2010

Alison Wright

"This mask was carved by Fabian Pano, a master carver of Malagan ceremonial masks. Fabian learned the craft from his father who learned from the generations before him. These masks used to be burned after a ceremony but there are so few carvers left, the masks are now preserved and collected. "

By Alison Wright


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Monks Resting at Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia, 2006

Alison Wright

"On my first day returning to Angkor Wat in Cambodia after twelve years I was initially dismayed to find the ancient ruins literally sinking under the weight of tourists. The last time I’d been on top of Thom Bakheng to watch the sunset I’d been alone with one other French tourist. Now bus loads of Korean and Japanese clamored up Bakheng Hill with an obsessive determination to join the crush of visitors resolute to capture the last rays of the day. I discovered it was best to walk the ruins in the opposite direction of the tourists, when the monks come out to enjoy the quiet of the day."

By Alison Wright


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Loli/Red Shoes/2010

Jim Lee

"The final photograph, 'Loli/Red Shoes/2010,' anticipates the journey across America Jim Lee was to complete in August 2011. The journey was made in his retro dream machine, a powder blue 1965 Ford Mustang. In 2010, when this picture was taken, Jim went on a month-long recce, both to buy the car and plan the trail, with his new partner, Loli. Here are Loli’s red heels in the air, in the wide spaces of Death Valley, the Mojave Desert, California. For an empty space it couldn’t be more packed with symbolism. On the right, a windmill for pumping water. And in the left background, the spacey whiteness of wind turbines. Like Jim Lee, the Americans have always got a future on the go and, for once, that lovely phrase ‘renewable energy’ couldn’t find a better setting.”

By Peter York
"Jim Lee – Arrested," Ammonite Press, 2012.

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Willy/Midget 2/1968

Jim Lee

"Firstly, the actual photo was taken in 1968 and has remained in very good condition mainly because it was lost in a safe place and therefore has not been tugged and pushed around at all. I'm glad to say it was exposed perfectly! What’s particularly good is that its the colour process of that time - it was a transparency / positive image and the colour grading was the best you could get then. The colours clearly were different to today’s colours in a way they were possibly slightly artificially enhanced, but particular to that period. The grain in the emulsion is of that time clearly and the sharpness is good all around.

The photo was shot for Jean Muir a well-known designer of her era here in UK. The model is a Vogue model of that time called Maren Greve who married the manager of the singer Robbie Williams. The man driving the 1964 Ferrari is Julian Moulton a playboy of the period who was the inheritor of a fortune back in those days whose father was one of the major shareholders of the Chase Manhattan Bank as it was known in those days. The chauffeur was Willy Shearer, a comedian and acrobat, who was three feet tall! It was shot outside a stately home in England called Kenwood House."

By Jim Lee


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Still Life Series

John Baeder

"Who doesn’t love magic. Reality and illusion.

The ‘Wow Factor’. What the photo-realists are all about. We push reality bringing ourselves to the image using photographs as a stepping stone. A visual note akin to writers who use notes for their text. The painting enhanced from tidbits of information collected together to make an image a total whole painting. For me, tiny areas of abstraction, when pulled away, a representational painting.

I’ve always been fascinated with faux objects. Fruit, flowers, vegetables. And food items, too. The real look fake, the fake look real. The eye is fooled, just the way the illusionists work. With that fascination, I’ve always been enamored with traditional still life painters. The plethora of 16-17th century Dutch masters. Chardin, the brilliant Frenchman Luis Melendez, the young and equally magical Spaniard.

The painting series of the personal, and intimate ‘kitchen window sill series’ from 1997, pushed still life in another direction with paint. As photographs, they would have appeared boring. Painting faux elements does not work, their subtle nuances only show well in a photograph where the magic resides.

Traditional faux elements were not enough. Since commonplace objects are part of the traditional makeup, I decided to use many ‘commonplace’ objects, my 1:24th scale automobile and truck collection. Why not a visual jolt? Their presence and contradiction pushes the tradition further. All still life artists used books of some kind, they were lying around the homestead, too. I use books as form, color, more so biographical statement. Often they’re hidden messages within them. More fun for the viewer. More fun for me.

The most important element borrowed from all the past masters is the use of northern light. Fortunately, I was able to have this advantage. It made for a purity and integrity that followed the old style techniques. Taking from painting inspiration and returning to the photograph is an exercise in liberation, more so, like the old master painters, taking advantage of what’s in front of you unconsciously, and consciously turning that fixation into the name of art.”

By John Baeder
Introduction to "John Baeder - New Photographs: Chapter Five"

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Ali Hits George, Miami

Harry Benson

“We flew to Miami for the Beatles second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Watching television, I saw Clay shouting that he would win the heavyweight title from the champ, Sonny Liston. I thought this would make a good picture, but John wanted to meet the champion instead. Liston didn’t even look-up at me and said: ‘I don’t want to meet those bums.’ Thinking they were going to meet Liston, I took them to meet Clay at the Fifth Street Gym. Clay completely overwhelmed them shouting, ‘I’m the greatest. You’re pretty, but I’m prettier.’ They had never taken a back seat before. John told me I had made a fool of them and he wouldn’t speak to me for a month.”

The Beatles and Cassius Clay, Miami, 1964
Being There
By Harry Benson

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Beatles Pillow Fight, Paris

Harry Benson

"It was 3:00 a.m. after a concert at the Olympia in Paris in January 1964. They had so much pent up energy after a performance, and they really couldn’t go out because they would be mobbed. So we were sitting around talking and drinking. Their manager, Brian Epstein, burst into their suite at the Hotel George V to tell them ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ was number one on the American charts which meant they were going to America to be on the Ed Sullivan Show. That also meant I was going to America with them, and I was pleased. America had always fascinated me. Ever since I was a boy in Glasgow watching James Cagney gangster movies, I knew that was where I wanted to be. They were excited about having a number one hit in America. I had heard the Beatles talking about a pillow fight they had had a few nights before, so I suggested it. I thought it would make a good photo to celebrate. At first they said okay, but then John said, no, it would make them look silly. The John slipped up behind Paul and hit him over the head with a pillow, spilling his drink, and that started it."

by Harry Benson
Harry Benson Photographs
60 Years of Photograph
powerHouse Books


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Beatles Arrival in New York - 1964

Harry Benson

“When the Beatles stepped off the plane they were greeted by shouting newsmen and photographers but only a few fans. The fans had been held back by the police. I was the fifth off the plane and had arranged for them to turn around and look at me before disembarking. London was expecting thousands of screaming fans and nothing short of that would have been acceptable for the front page of the paper after the way the Beatles had been received in Europe. I never bothered to wire the photos back to London since there had been no hysterical crowds, but the photo has taken on a whole new meaning with time.”

Beatles Arrival in New York - 1964
7 February 1964
Being There
By Harry Benson

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James Brown, Atlanta

Harry Benson

"In Augusta to photograph James Brown, these pictures were taken when he suggested we go for a ride. He told me he would show me 'his town.' So we jumped into an old car and drove around. He would stop the car when he saw someone sitting in their yard, run up, do the split, yell out, 'I feel good', and jump back in the car and drive off. It was all so spontaneous and hilarious, and it took the onlookers by such surprise. Brown was a fun-loving character and a good sport."

by Harry Benson
Harry Benson Photographs
60 Years of Photograph
powerHouse Books


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Judy Garland, Copenhagen

Harry Benson

“I flew to Copenhagen from London to photograph the legendary singer who had just married her tour promoter, Mark Herron. Herron is lighting her cigarette in the photo. I asked her what her favorite song was and of course she answered ‘Over the Rainbow,’ and she unexpectedly proceeded to sing about ten songs for me. She was, to paraphrase what Frank Sinatra once said, ‘the greatest entertainer in the world.”

by Harry Benson
Harry Benson Photographs
60 Years of Photograph
powerHouse Books


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Sir Winston Churchill at Harrow School

Harry Benson

"This was Sir Winston’s last visit to his old school, Harrow. For the occasion, the students added a chorus to the school song, ‘And Churchill’s name shall win acclaim through each new generation.’ One reason I wanted to become a photojournalist was to be at the center of world events as described by Churchill in his radio addresses during the Second World War."

Sir Winston Churchill at Harrow School
December 1964
Being There
By Harry Benson

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Portrait, Canton Mississippi

Harry Benson

"In a nearby church about an hour after being tear gassed, Dr. King had never seemed so angry. I was sitting on the edge of the platform where he stood and he leaned down and said to me, 'It’s really terrible being black in this country.' He gave a spirited speech to the marchers who were angry at what had happened to them."

Martin Luther King, Jr. Portrait, Canton Mississippi, 1966
Harry Benson's Photographs
60 Years of Photography
By Harry Benson

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Cassius Clay (Ali) wins in Miami (Ali on The Ropes)

Harry Benson

“Moments after Clay defeated Sonny Liston for title Heavyweight Champion of the World you could see the tension in his eyes. Clay changed his name after the fight and would not answer reporters’ questions unless they referred to him as Muhammad Ali.”

Cassius Clay (Ali) wins in Miami (Ali on The Ropes)
1964
Being There
By Harry Benson


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Robert F. Kennedy, St. Patrick

Harry Benson

"Senator Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency in 1968 on St. Patrick’s Day, in Washington D.C., then flew to New York and marched up Fifth Avenue in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. People seemed to idolize him and want to touch him. He would dive into the crowd and shake hands, ignoring the security police who surrounded him. At one point, he looked up, pointed his finger, and smiled. I followed his gaze and saw Jacqueline Kennedy and her son, John, Jr., with their heads out a window on Fifth Avenue smiling and waiving. Bobby knew they would be there. I photographed him that day and was on the campaign trail on and off for the duration. There was camaraderie among the press corps traveling with Bobby. He knew what the press corps needed and he always made sure we got a photograph before the end of the day. Bobby made you feel like one of the inner circle, and it worked. The press and the people loved Bobby."

Senator Robert F. Kennedy, St. Patrick's Day Parade, NY, 1968
Harry Benson's Photographs-60 Years of Photography
By Harry Benson

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Glasgow Boys in Fountain

Harry Benson

"The park is one of my favorite haunts. One afternoon I was walking around looking for photographs to take, and I happened upon a group of schoolboys up to some mischief. I was carrying a Thorton-Pickard plate camera and had only three glass plates. I had to guess the distance and took only this one photograph. The boys were cooling off as the newspaper headline screened, “Glasgow Heat Wave.” It must have been no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There were not many swimming pools at the time. The fountain that was built in 1872 had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s. Recently my friend, Roberta Doyle, sent me a clipping saying the city council had decided to restore the fountain, and I am pleased by the news."

Glasgow Boys in Fountain
Harry Benson Photographs
60 Years of Photograph
powerHouse Books


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Jacqueline Kennedy, London

Harry Benson

"Mrs. Kennedy returned to London for a visit with her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill. I read the daily press bulletin from Buckingham Palace and saw that they were expected for lunch with the Queen. I ran from outside Princess Radziwill’s home to Buckingham Palace and took this photograph as their limousine was about to turn into the gate. Recently when I showed the photograph to a close friend of Mrs. Kennedy’s he immediately said, 'That was taken before 1963.' And when I asked him how he knew, he replied simply, 'Because she never smiled that way again after 1963.'”

Jacqueline Kennedy, London
Harry Benson Photographs
60 Years of Photograph
powerHouse Books


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Life's Evening Hour

John Dugdale

“I began this new journey leaning against Henry Fox Talbot’s tombstone at his home, Lacock Abbey, England, the birthplace of modern photography, which I had the honor of visiting a few summers ago. Talbot made the first book of photography, “The Pencil of Nature.” Lacock was built in high Gothic style atop a thirteenth-century abbey. There, I and my traveling companions, Billy O’Connor and Daniel Levin, my assistant, visited places where Talbot made his first “sun photographs.” We walked through his chambers in the house and around the grounds, trying to absorb the energy there, and we spent time in the abbey where nuns once lived. I was shaken to be at the beginning place of photography; I felt as if I were on sacred ground. At the end of the long day we found the Talbot family’s burial plot. When we took my self-portrait at his grave site in the gloaming, I was totally overwhelmed.””

By John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1997
Lacock Abbey, England

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Luminous Glass

John Dugdale

“This dangerously glowing piece of glass represents the beginning of my freedom from blindness and also my obstinacy. Such bright green Vaseline glass is a citrine or cyanic color caused by uranium which, though deadly, makes the object glow in the sunlight. When severe sight loss proved permanent, I needed to know if I could focus my camera. Experimenting, I placed this glass in a beam of sunlight and spent four excruciating but exhilarating hours stepping back and forth from the object to camera. I wore maybe three pairs of eyeglasses and held a magnifying glass, but my single sighted eye kept blurring out. Nevertheless, I was determined to figure out how to self-focus with what vision remained. Now, four years later my sight is diminished from when I took this picture, in spite of surgery and medication. But miraculously, my brain has adapted to understand and act fully on signals the eye sends it. I need to wear only two pairs of eyeglasses and spend half an hour, not four, working with my camera. I have the great joy of again being able to focus, with a little help.”

By John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1995
Lockwood Farm, New York

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Jacob's Ladder

John Dugdale

“Henry Fox Talbot and Emily Dickinson lured me to my garden shed this afternoon. In Lacock Abbey, Talbot’s home, there’s a famous early photograph of a similar ladder leaning against a wall where a figure stands in an open doorway. And Dickinson wrote a lot about Jacob’s ladder, the thought of which provides a kind of scriptural escape route from my own ‘nameless lissistude.’ A profound truth I learned in the hospital is that I would not be staying there or anywhere else forever, that life is a journey that we’re going to exit eventually, perhaps on this ladder leading straight up and out of the picture. On my back is the tracery of sun through glory vines. Eventually, they’ll envelop the entire shed; I’m looking forward to that.”

By John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1999
Lockwood Farm, New York

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I Could Not See to See

John Dugdale

“On a Sunday afternoon Paul Martone, whom I’d never met, came to be photographed. When he departed three hours later, I felt I had known him my whole life. During our photo session, fundamental truths about universal emotional needs emerged. With the identifying characteristics of clothing stripped away from us, a warm work light on, and the camera observing silently, a timeless environment developed in which the need for protection, for encompassing arms to protect one another, was summoned. That I was to snuggle so safely in the harbor of this man’s chest and feel so secure there, our being able to share this moment after knowing each other only briefly, astounded me. This is why I continually photograph people nude, to show that in and under the skin we are all much the same.”

By John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1998
Morton Street, N.Y.C.

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La Maison de Photographie, Pierrot

John Dugdale

“My dear friend John Kelly graces our version of Nadar's 'Pierrot jumping through a window.' Nadar, a socialite photographer who was perhaps the Robert Mapplethorpe of Paris, photographed the Parisian theater's most famous Pierrot, Adrien Tournachon, in a series during 1854-55. In the original print, Pierrot is stepping through the broken window of a door. Since the only free door I had was solid, Pierrot's move is an introduction to my studio, which is also my home. As in Nadar he's holding an envelope, but now addressed to Messr. Dugdale. My 'glasses' signature is drawn on the envelope, too, a sign of my lost eyesight. When inscribing my books and photographs, by adding a small drawing of spectacles at the end of my autograph I have signified my eyesight change. John has been a muse since I first saw him, in 1981, emerging from the floor at the Pyramid Club, costumed in dry-cleaning wrappers, strumming a harp made from cardboard tubes, dancing to Ravel's 'Daphne and Chloe.' 'Who is this creature?' I wondered. 'I have to know him.'”

By John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1997
Morton Street, N.Y.C.

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Mourning Tulips

John Dugdale

"These rather solemn tulips are in a beaker in my studio. Over the course of their life they grew up, then bent down in a sort of reverence, almost genuflecting, paying a kind of homage to someone (I’m not sure whom). They appear completely alive, as if thinking about their activity. Flowers: a symbol of birth, grief, loss, love, beauty, one of God’s most enduring creations."

by John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1999
Morton Street, N.Y.C.

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I Remain the Same as When I Began

John Dugdale

“Shown my self-portrait with Alba lilies, many people didn't want to look at it because they supposed I was in a coffin. I'm not but I thought, 'Well, even if I were, why is that such a scary idea?' These days death is not a daily part of life, whereas it was in the nineteenth century. Studying its photography, I've looked at numerous photographs of the dead - from infants to the elderly - who had passed away nearly always at home in the presence of the family. Death was as much a part of life then as being born. Today it's just the opposite. This picture is a tribute to the past.
Personally, the picture amazes me; I appear to have de-aged by fifteen years, an impossibility. In preparing to make a self-portrait I conjure various memories from inside myself. I sense the exact moment when the picture should be shot, and not a second before or after. Am I thinking about the peacefulness I felt when I realized that I was mortal? Or the secret I know that we're all going to pass sooner or later? Or was it the grand experience of my straddling the abyss? I believe this picture has revealed all of these things, and I hope that's what speaks to people. I wish they would look directly at the portrait and not back away. From this session is another picture where I am facing straight up with eyes closed, but I never show that because it resembles a death mask.”

By John Dugdale LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1998
Morton Street, N.Y.C.

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Restored Torso

John Dugdale

"Self-portraits don’t necessarily have to show my body. Noticing this piece of statuary in the entryway of the American Academy in Rome, I stopped to examine it with my hands. I discovered this exquisite remnant of a male figure with no head and no arms, a piece missing from the heart, iron staples holding its back together. Even so, it was extraordinarily vivid and alive. It reminded me of myself. At my Italian show I hung this photograph without explanation, wondering if anyone would understand my secret. Everyone did. I didn’t have to tell anyone that this was a self-portrait; they understood my metaphor completely."

by John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1997
Rome

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Madonna Lilies

John Dugdale

"For me these trumpet flowers exude a marvelously perfumed fragrance inextricably linked to Easter ever since I was a child. Regardless of the liturgical calendar, I keep lilies around me as often as possible because their scent conveys the sense of being reborn. In recent years I’ve experienced every kind of resurrection imaginable. Indeed, as every survivor of a life-threatening illness knows, to have the good fortune to wake up each new day is a rebirth, never to be taken for granted."

by John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1997
Morton Street, N.Y.C.

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Self-Portrait in Oriel Window

John Dugdale

"Photographing myself at this window in Henry Fox Talbot’s home, me knees trembled and I was sweating. In my mind I was re-experiencing the birth of photography. More than a century ago, sunlight streaming through these leaded-glass panes created in Talbot’s camera the first photographic negative. Feeling the light falling on my body the same way it had on that negative was transforming. I have never felt so lucky in my life. “Photographic”…Greek for drawing with light. Amazing."

by John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1997
Lacock Abbey, England

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Nameless Lissisitude

John Dugdale

"It is 105 degrees in the shade. I’ve sort of lost my way. I don’t know what my next photography show will be about, or what I’m about, where I’m going or how I’m feeling; and can I continue taking all these medications (40 pills daily) and still hold myself together? It’s such a humongous effort, day after day, week after week. I’m in the thick of studying Emily Dickinson, her poetry and biographies. There is a line somewhere in a letter – she is taking care of her mother who has suffered a stroke – where Dickinson writes about her mother’s “nameless lissisitude”. The word isn’t in my dictionary. I did find “liss,” which can mean lethargy and tiredness. I worry sometimes that I don’t write down everyday occurrences, but the photographs tell it all. This one sums up the burden and the weariness that I feel in keeping my body intact."

by John Dugdale
LIFE'S EVENING HOUR
1999
Lockwood Farm, New York

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John Dugdale

John Dugdale's photography is a dedication to the inspired principles of late 19th century and early 20th century classic photographer. His interests lie in the soul and the spirit that objects and memories can conjure. John lost 90% of his site roughly two decades ago and has committed himself to making pictures that resonate a unique beauty. Like Julia Margaret Cameron and Robert Talbot the photographs are printed with organic chemistry with sunlight. John Dugdale challenges us to expand our understanding of how an unsighted photographer can bring to light concerns of the heart, mind, and soul.

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Girls In The Windows

Ormond Gigli

"In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade. We had to work quickly to secure city permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior's wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers' lunch time! The day before the buildings were razed, the 43 women appeared in their finest attire, went into the buildings, climbed the old stairs, and took their places in the windows. I was set up on my fire escape across the streeet, directing the scene, with bullhorn in hand. Of course I was concerned for the models' safety, as some were daring enough to pose out on the crumbling sills. The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self - assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since. Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. 'Girls in the Windows' is mine."

by Ormond Gigli

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Surma (Children Playing) # 24-25

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

"Exuberant children with painted face masks play creating games imitating frogs, grasshoppers and crickets. As they leap, they sing, “My mother, my apple, my fruit,” expressing their love for their mothers. Free to play into the night, the children perform until the wee hours of the morning, repeating this chant with endless enthusiasm. As the village slept, we lay in our tents and listened to the children singing deep in the forest."

by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Faces of Africa – Thirty Years of Photography
Surma, Ethiopia

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Surma (Four Young Surma Friends) # 40-41

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

"Transforming the body with paint is a great source of fun for small Surma children, like “dressing-up” in the Western World. In this way, they are learning to decorate themselves for courtship rituals later in life. These little girls have painted their faces with identical designs to identify themselves as best friends."

by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Faces of Africa – Thirty Years of Photography
Surma, Ethiopia

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Maasai Warrior with Ostrich Feather Headress, Kenya

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

“A warrior uses natural pigments, animal hides, and feathers to adorn himself during his passage into elderhood. The white chalk indicates his state of transition, the red ochre symbolizes the color of blood and new life, and the ostrich feathers signify bravery."

by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Faces of Africa – Thirty Years of Photography
Masai, Kenya

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Surma (Two Children Watching) # 118-119

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

"The festive season is also one of leisure, during which time children sit for hours and watch, fascinated by the activities of the body painters. Children sometimes complement their body painting by covering their heads with wet chalk and water and drawing lines with their fingertips, following the contour of the head."

by Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher
Painted Bodies
African Body Painting, Tattoos & Scarification

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Tribal Man in Transition, Kenya

Dana Gluckstein

"Years ago, I met a beautiful man in a dusty roadside market in Kenya. With tribal markings on his forehead and a torn western t-shirt, he was caught between his traditional village and the modern capitol of Nairobi. He asked me to take his portrait. I called this image 'Tribal Man in Transition' a thematic precursor to my current photographs." Karen Sinsheimer, Photography Curator of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, states “One sees the character and strength of a whole people, a whole nation; Dana has captured the sense of a hero in this man with a ragged t-shirt.”

by Dana Gluckstein

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Ovazemba Teenage Girls, Namibia

Dana Gluckstein

"In Namibia, Ovazemba girls posed, one with a plastic toy cell phone dangling from a necklace and the other with a bra and no shirt - a collision of traditional, modern and missionary cultures."

by Dana Gluckstein

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Young Boy at Religious Festival, Bhutan

Dana Gluckstein

"The images from Bhutan depict the contradictions facing this ancient and mystical Himalayan culture whose admirable gross national product is measured in moments of happiness rather than the acquisition of material things. An onslaught of Bollywood and Hollywood images since television’s introduction in 2000, however, threaten traditional values. At a religious festival, a schoolboy dressed in his traditional gho crouches with his toy rifle."

by Dana Gluckstein

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Chanter, Hawaii

Dana Gluckstein

"Amidst such degradation and dispossession, there are stories of hope. The images of the Hawaiian Chanter, depict the cultural renaissance of Native Hawaiians who seek to heal the centuries of cultural erosion and loss of identity that followed the theft of their kingdom. Now their children attend Hawaiian cultural immersion programs where they learn to speak their once forbidden Hawaiian language, to dance their traditional hula, and to feel proud of their heritage."

by Dana Gluckstein

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Le Champ de Bataille

Bernard Faucon

"The young boy and the flames dotted around the edge of the field are real enough, but the casualties are dummies dressed-up as soldiers. This scene is part of a series put together in the late 1970s and published as Les Grandes Vacances in 1979. Faucon’s procedure was to use shop window dummies and children together in staged tableaux of scenes from an idyllic childhood. Faucon’s ‘children’ sail homemade boats, fly kites and celebrate in beautiful landscapes, and seem untroubled by older generations. Yet these pictures are not entirely innocent but rather show an adult’s games played around the idea of a perfect childhood. In this case, for instance, the young boy is reporting to the camera apprehensively, almost as if he has just returned from an actual battle. The invitation, as in so much of the photography, which followed in the 1980s, is to reflect on just what it is like to be faced by such combinations of the real and the fictive."

By Ian Jeffrey
The Photo Book
Phaidon Press Limited

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Bernard Faucon - Les Chambres

French artist Bernard Faucon is a Renaissance man in the art world, having first tried his hand at painting before finding his niche in the craft of photography, then moving on to writing. His intriguing photographic oeuvre, rife with themes of youth, beauty and love, met with international acclaim and was shown in nearly 300 solo exhibitions around the world. His work has gathered somewhat of a cult following as well; The Japanese TV show Oh! Mikey points to his photographs of mannequins as inspiration (the mannequins used in his early photographic series, pictured below, are now in the Nanasai Collection in Kyoto, Japan) and scarves printed with his pictures are available at trendy Colette concept store in Paris.

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Le Baiser Blotto (Les Amoureaux en Triporteur - Lovers in a Three-Wheel Cart)

Robert Doisneau

"This is a photograph from the LIFE assignment on young lovers in Paris. Doisneau did not risk using images of real couples kissing; he employed a number of models (mostly young actors-in-training), placing them in interesting situations, with highly “Parisian” settings as backdrops. In every photograph he sought to reproduce the same gestural grace he had observed in other young lovers as they kissed."

Robert Doisneau
A Photographer’s Life
by Peter Hamilton

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Les Enfants de la Place Hebert

Robert Doisneau

"Maybe the elder girl just wanted the child in the apron to pose properly, because cameramen must have been rarities in Place Hebert, up in the north of Paris near to the Porte de la Capelle. She seems to be addressing herself directly to Doisneay, and to be completely unaware of the running figure behind her and the youth idling by the telephone and looking for all the world like a pimp in training. What distinguishes Doisneau’s street photography of the 1940s and 1950s is a capacity for narrative. There was also some point in photographing the unwashed real life of Place Hebert, because it was a way of toying with the romantic images of the city which were then very much in vogue. Doisneau came to photography by the way of the studio of Andre Vigneau and from (1935-9) the publicity department of Renault at Billancourt, which he described as ‘a hard school’. In 1949 he signed a contract with Vogue, but it is for his ‘street photograph’ of Paris that Doisneau is best known today."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Naomi Campbell, Palm Springs

Albert Watson

"After taking hundreds of pictures of Naomi Campbell for Italian VOGUE in Palm Springs, California, Watson noticed that the supermodel was cooling off, waiting in the shade for him. Watson recalls, ‘I looked over and she was under an umbrella – right there I knew that was the shot, how perfect her head was in that raw sunlight.’ The strong line of this composition delineates Campbell’s remarkable profile, like an eighteenth-century silhouette."

Naomi Campbell, Palm Springs
Albert Watson
By James Crump

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Golden Boy, New York

Albert Watson

"Of all Watson’s pictures perhaps this image has become his best known. ‘I had worked with this child on a commercial job for the Gap when he was five years old and I asked him to come back at the end of the day. I sprayed him gold and made this portrait on a 8 x 10 view camera. Once again I was interested in simplicity and power and there was something amazing about the honesty of his face. The child was incredibly beautiful, the image monumental and simple."

Golden Boy, New York
Albert Watson
By James Crump

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Monkey with Mask, New York City

Albert Watson

"Watson enjoyed photographing the monkeys because it was a personal project inspired by the unpredictability of these creatures. In very typical Watson fashion, he approached the subject matter graphically. The assemblage is created from a cut-up selection of individual portraits that revolve around moods and characters not dissimilar from those the photographer often extracts from his human sitters. The humorous composition is as complex as any he’s ever made."

Monkey with Mask, New York City
Albert Watson
By James Crump

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Three Dories

Michael Kahn

"At dawn, the instant I stepped outside I knew where I wanted to go. I had been watching this set of three dories for many years, never figuring out how exactly to isolate them from a busy background. But this morning, I knew the fog was exactly the element I had been waiting for. Standing on the shore, I went through ten rolls of film, watching the dories slowly turn and shift in the water, seeing the fog silently lift and the morning gradually appear around me. From that day I recall... A heron calls, a small duck answers. A mother and three babies trail behind the boats. We watch for hours as they line up, turn, and move. Everything was changing by the moment. Before I realized it, the day had unfolded and the fog was gone, but this ethereal vision of three boats floating in space was finally captured."

By Michael Kahn
Kennebunkport, Maine
August 2011

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Becoming

Michael Kahn

"Dawn, in the center of the island, an area the locals call The Nantucket Serengeti. The fog is lifting, revealing an unusual shape of the trees set against the brilliance of morning. The trees live in such a harsh environment of salt and sand. Yet it is in this harshness that they show their true strength."

By Michael Kahn
Nantuket, Massachusetts
2006
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Journey

Michael Kahn

"When Hurricane Irene came to the mainland, I was traveling north and decided to head to Popham Beach, Maine and wait out the storm. Mid-morning, we walked the extremely low tide watching the sky and ground emerge with increasing intensity. This great expanse captivated me. Looking back, this day represented my journey throughout the year, in this beautiful and fragile environment. This journey has helped me to discover the essence of photography... and life: being there. Being present, experiencing the entire moment, with all of the senses. To be a witness standing in awe of our wonderful environment, and to be grateful for each life that embarks on this splendid journey."

By Michael Kahn
Popham Beach, Maine
August 2011

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Madonna (True Blue), Hollywood

Herb Ritts

"Madonna looks like an animated version of Marilyn Monroe, and dresses in this picture as if James Dean were her boyfriend. The habit of posing against pale, flat backgrounds had been established in the 1950s and 1960s by Irvin Penn and by Richard Avedon, and it often stood for victimhood. The subject had nowhere to go and had to make do with whatever resources of spirit the moment had to offer. Madonna’s acting is a response to that format, and an assertion that she is equal to the moment. The Warhol response of the 1970s had been one of impassivity, but Madonna – representative of new aesthetic – took a different approach, adapting and changing with the occasion. Herb Ritts, one of the best-known celebrity portraitists of the 1980s and 1990s, is specially associated with the magazine Rolling Stone, in which this portrait originally appeared."

By Ian Jeffrey
The Photo Book
Phaidon Press Limited

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Big Life Foundation

Nick Brandt

It's been a few months since the last Big Life Foundation newsletter. Is no news good news? The attached photo, taken in July, shows 22 of the now 100+ Big Life Rangers. They are holding the tusks of just a few of the elephants killed in the Amboseli/Tsavo ecosystem in the years 2004-2009. (So none of these elephant were killed on Big Life's watch). The ranger at the front is Corporal Katanki, who has one of the best records for the capture of poachers amongst Big Life's growing small army of men fighting to save the elephants and the other animals in this unique ecosystem.

Big Life Foundation
by NICK BRANDT


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Behind the Gare St. Lazare

Henri Cartier-Bresson

“A man attempting to leap a large puddle is captured by the photographer in mid-air. His streamlined shape is mirrored in the water and in the ballet poster behind him. He has gone as far as ingenuity will take him and yet – in the circumstances – it is not far enough. Cartier-Bresson is known, above all, for his identification of the ‘decisive moment’, which was also the title of his first important book, published in 1952. This picture is an example of just such a minor but thoroughly revealing instant of decision. The orderly architectural setting is also a common characteristic of Cartier-Bresson’s work, serving as a foil against which human vitality can be seen to advantage. His interest lies in actual life as carried out among the potholes of the real city.”

By Ian Jeffrey
The Photo Book
Phaidon Press Limited

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Winston Churchill

Alfred Eisenstaed

“While in England I covered the election campaign of the Conservative Party and traveled with Churchill for several days. He became prime minister two weeks after this picture was taken. In Liverpool I caught him dozing a little on the dais before his speech. When the band started, to play the National Anthem, his son Randolph tapped him on his shoulder and up shot his fingers like a viper.”

Winston Churchill, Liverpool, 1951
By Alfred Eisenstaed
Eisenstaed on Eisenstaed


On the Road to Cuzco, near Pisac, in the Valle Sagrado of the Urubamba River

Werner Bischof

"In and idyllic scene a boy plays his pipe as he walks along a mountain road on the way to Cuzco, Peru. Bischof, who was an international photojournalist, took many affecting pictures of children as symbols of a better future. A visionary, he wanted to see the world re-civilized and he believed that photography could demonstrate how this might be achieved. Although he covered both the Korean and Indo-China Wars, family and social life were his preferred topics because they spoke of continuity, rather than the wholesale renovation favored by the totalitarians. Many of his pictures are of musicians, dancer, and the cultural life of traditional-conscious communities. He found and exemplary world in traditional Japan, which he made the subject of an important book published in 1954. In the same year Bischof was killed in a car accident in the Andes, shortly after this picture was taken."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Lella, Bretagne

Edouard Boubat

"Lella was one of the photographer’s sister’s friends. In an interview Boubat described these friends, who were among his earliest photographic subjects, as being each one more beautiful than the rest. Here he may be proposing that Lella is some handsome epitome of France resurgent, for the war was not long over. The face in the background, by contrast, looks older and anxious as if to confirm Lella in her beauty. Boubat, who studied photogravure at the Ecole Estienne in Paris during the war, admits to being self-taught in photography itself. Nevertheless, his ability to make an art out of ‘instants in which nothing happens’ was in keeping with a post-war ethos which stressed respect for others. His approach to his subjects was companionable and conversational. Boubat’s first exhibition was at La Hune bookshop on the Left Bank was prompted by Robert Delpire, who would become the most influential publishers of new photography in the 1950s."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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New York City, 1974 (Dog Legs)

Elliott Erwitt

"The occasion was an advertisement for boots, and the Great Dane and the Chihuahua were on hire from an agency. Erwitt, the most famous dog photographer in the history of the medium, remarked on the advantages of dog models saying that they were cheaper than hired humans, often more attractive, more distinctive than humans and indifferent to fashion trends. Dogs, too, are ideal for shoe adverts because they take the eye down to where it matters. In other more philosophical work in which dogs and humans appear together, Erwitt points both to the animality of humans and to the humanity evident in animals. Like them we eat, scratch, and guard our privacy. The purpose of almost all of his pictures, with or without dogs, is to elicit commentary and captioning: in this case bearing on the large and the small. A multi-faceted photographer from his teens, Erwitt’s books include Observations on American Architecture (1972)."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Carmen Face Massage

Horst P. Horst

‘Few photographers worked in color as early or as successfully as Horst and Beaton. Black and white photography talks one language and color speaks another. He made me feel like a princess’.

Carmen, December 2013

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Triangle (Nude)

Horst P. Horst

In the early 1950s Horst produced a set of distinctive photographic prints the subject of which was quite unlike much of his previous output. A series of male nudes with coolly detached titles, this set of figure studies was exhibited in Paris in 1953.

The impact of these images can clearly be seen in the work of many later photographers who turned their attentions to the male body, most notably Robert Mapplethorpe.

Prior to the seismic shift achieved by the gay liberation movement of the early 1970s, Horst’s sexuality, whilst an open secret that is undeniably present as a stylistic subtext in much of his photographic work, was at most inferred and certainly did not constitute his subject matter.

The images Horst shot in the 1950s capture monumental and anonymous bodies in a sparse, dramatically lit studio setting, using an economy of form far beyond that employed by Huene or Horst’s later contemporaries. These images are seemingly without allusion, pared down to the very minimum of association, using the techniques of commercial photography that Horst developed at Vogue before the war and which constituted his aesthetic signature.

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Marlene Dietrich

Horst P. Horst

Marlene Dietrich (1901-92) gained international fame starring in paramount films such as Morocco (1930) and The Devil is a Woman (1935). The director Josef von Sternberg was instrumental in shaping the actress’s femme fatale image in those, and several other visually arresting movies.

Despite her immense stardom, Horst did not consider his fellow countrywoman a great beauty, commenting that ‘without makeup, her face had typical flat German features. She projected sex but she was not sexy’. The screen celebrities of the era were often known for specific attributes: Bette Davis for her eyes, and Dietrich for her perfect legs. Yet, for this portrait, Horst obscured the famous legs altogether, placing a chair in front of her.

The focus of the image is Dietrich’s face, with its slightly open mouth and heavily lidded eyes that gaze into the distance and effect an expression of longing. Though undoubtedly bewitching, she is depicted here as a real woman rather than a celluloid siren.

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Coco Chanel

Horst P. Horst

The Aura of Glamour: Couture Fashion.

The presentation of the new Paris fashion was the culmination of months of endeavor by an army of highly skilled cutters, tailors, seamstresses and specialist embroiderers. The collections were the creative expression of a couturier’s vision and also the measure by which an haute-couture fashion house traded ideas for orders.

Each of the numerous Paris establishments was distinguished by the aesthetic sensibility of its couturier. This is embodied by the gleaming modernity of Coco Chanel’s house, with its mirrored staircase on which she sat, hidden, to observe the reaction to her collections.

This theatricality and grandeur was reflected and emulated in fashion, and it was in this context that Horst began to photograph fashion for French Vogue, creating idealized and dream-like environments populated with figures of impossible beauty, wearing clothes far beyond the reach of most.

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Electric Beauty

Horst P. Horst

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Hollywood films disseminated new ideals of beauty, which the cosmetics industry grew rapidly to fulfill. In 1920 there were 5,000 beauty parlors in America, but by 1930 that figure had risen to 40,000. Women’s magazines featured articles on the most impressive innovations in age-defying treatments.

Advertisements by companies including Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, Klytia and Caron suggested that miraculous therapies could be experienced inside their luxurious professional salons, and that the secret to eternal youth might be found in the creams and lotions they manufactured. Photographs illustrated French Vogue articles that extolled the transformative power of modern beauty machines.

Horst’s Electric Beauty was perhaps intended as a satirical comment on the increasingly extreme beauty treatments of the 1930s, and the futility of such preoccupations at a time when the world was on the brink of war. The spot-lit model is seated next to a table filled with beauty instruments and appears to be undergoing several modern procedures simultaneously. The mask she wears renders her blind to her own bizarre appearance and unaware that she is dangerously close to being electrocuted, while its wires seem to hint at a possible strangulation. Indeed, it could be argued that he composed his photograph to serve as a caution against the vice of vanity.

Between 1936 and 1943 Horst produced numerous photographs infused with a sense of the surreal, including still lifes, fashion studies and beauty pictures, but none match Electric Beauty for its fusion of wit, menace and foreboding.

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Mainbocher Corset

Horst P. Horst

“It was the last photograph I took in Paris before the war. I left the studio at 4 a.m., went back to the house, picked up my bags and caught a 7:00 a.m. train to Le Havre to board the Normandie. We all felt that war was coming. Too much armament, too much talk. And you know that whatever happened, life would be completely different after. I had found a family in Paris, and a way of life. The clothes, the books, the apartment, everything was left behind. I had left Germany, Huene had left Russia, and now we experienced the same kind of loss all over again. This photograph is peculiar – for me is the essence of that moment. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind” - By Horst P. Horst

This most alluring of fashion photographs depicts a model wearing a back-lacking corset of pink satin, made by Detolle for Mainbocher’s Autumn-Winter 1939 collection. The image is both sensual and melancholy and, for Horst, it came to represent a turning point, the end of a charmed era. The model, known only as Madame Bernon, assumes the role of Aphrodite or Venus, goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, the proportions and contours of her body as perfect as a classical statue.

In 1939, the corseted silhouette became front-page news from the couture collections, indeed, Vogue declared ‘The corset is the key to new Paris silhouettes’ and the tight waist became a recurrent theme. Horst used spotlights and reflectors to create the deep shadows and highlights. So complex was the lighting in this photograph, he later commented that he would never be able to recreate it.

Adapted from "Horst Photographer of Style" by Susanna Brown

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Gloria Vanderbilt

Horst P. Horst

"As a child in the 1930s, Gloria Vanderbilt was at the centre of a notorious custody battle played out between her mother and her paternal grandmother. Horst included this pensive study in his book of photographs, "Salute to the Thirties," despite it being taken in the 1940s. This is in part due to her childhood always having been under public scrutiny and also because Horst considered her 'one of the most attractive and original women I have ever known.'"

By Robin Muir


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Lisa Fonssagrives

Horst P. Horst

“Lisa Fonssagrives was the most successful professional model of her time and her face was one of America's most recognizable icons of contemporary beauty. She was Horst's favorite model a decade before she was Irving Penn's favorite, and whom she married in 1950. Horst and Fonssagrives started out together; Horst remembered her 'trembling with fear' but recognized her potential straight away. 'On the day of my first test with Horst, I was terrified,' she recalled years later, 'I knew nothing about fashion and had never even looked at a fashion magazine. I had no idea what was expected of me. I didn't know what to do with my hands or how to pose. Horst was very kind to me but was nearly as inexperienced as I was.' As Horst simplified his approach to fashion photography, some of his best photographs were taken of Lisa and they rely, as her biographer Martin Harrison suggested, 'on very little other than Horst's mastery of studio lighting and the graphic power of his compositions.'”
By Robin Muir

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Swimwear by Izod (Divers)

George Hoyningen-Huene

"The pair look as though they might gaze out to sea for ever. In 1930 high-divers epitomized perfection, for they were the most self-possessed of all performers. Hoyningen-Huene’s models may be advertising nothing more than swimwear, but the context is the world of athletics. Hoyningen-Huene inaugurated the heroic phase in fashion photography in the late 1920s. In both his fashion and travel photography he tried to present mankind in a dignified light, as sculptural and heroic. He appreciated what he called ‘naturalness of form and movement’ and deplored ‘organized artificiality.’ Both phrases are taken from African Mirage, his travel book of 1938. He undertook fashion photography for Vogue in 1926, moved to Harper’s Bazaar in 1936, and in 1943 published eloquent picture books on Egypt and Greece. In 1946 he moved to Hollywood and became a portrait photographer of movie starts."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Marlene Dietrich

George Hurrell

"Marlene Dietrich had stubby fingers, but here they have been retouched to their advantage. Hurrell’s tendency in the 1930s was to use dramatic lighting from a single source in order to dramatize his Hollywood celebrities, and to make them expressionist and modern in the style of the German 1920s. The alternative style-as demonstrated by Clarence Sinclair Bull, in particular-was atmosphere and dreamy. Hurrell trained in Chicago, and moved to Laguna Beach in 1925. He worked for MGM in the late 1930s, and set up his own studio in 1932 in Sunset Strip. In the mid-1930s he accepted assignments from Twentieth-Century Fox, and between 1935 and 1938 was on contract to Warner Brothers. After serving as Staff Photographer at the Pentagon during the war he returned to Hollywood, where he was hired by Columbia Pictures. In the 1960s he entered television and shot Gunsmoke, Star Trek and M.A.S.H. As a portraitist he photographed everyone who was anyone in the major studios."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Satiric Dancer

Andre Kertesz

"Andre Kertesz was a friend of the Hungarian sculptor István Beöthy and took “Satiric Dancer” in Beöthy’s home. The model is Magda Förstner, a Hungarian cabaret dancer and aspiring actress, who had thrown herself onto a divan in an attempt to mirro Beöthy’s sculpture of a male torso nearby. Kertesz had invited Förstner to the studio specifically for the shoot. “I said to her, ‘Do something with the spirit of the studio corner,’ and she started to move on the sofa,” he recalled. “She just made a movement. I took only two photographs…People in motion are wonderful to photograph. It means catching the right moment-the moment when something changes into something else.”

When Kertesz photographed people he was motivated by compassion; his intention was not to sensationalize but to connect emotionally. He was not concerned with creating political commentary or aligning himself with a particular movement; he portrayed social realities without intentional underlying messages but with a develop sense of modernist form and a playful humor. Kertesz was given a solo exhibit at the Sacre du Printemps Gallery in 1927 that connected him to the “new spirit” promoted by avant-garde artists in the period. His photographs, widely published in illustrated journals, sealed his reputation as one of the leading photographers in Paris. His works, designed to capture the modern now seem timeless in their appeal.

Photography: The Whole Story
Prestel, 2012

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Martha Graham- Letter to the World, Kick

Barbara Morgan

"‘Letter to the World’ was created by the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham in 1940, and it was first performed at Bennington College in Vermont, where Graham taught. Graham’s radical idea about dancing was that it should return to basics and relate in particular to the ground, which classical dance had sought to transcend. Movement should take place- as here- around the centre of the body, in a series of contractions and releases. Graham’s intention was to renew dancing and to make it both relevant and palatable to contemporaries. Her first masterwork was Primitive Mysteries (1931). She choreographed American subjects in Frontier (1935) and Appalachian Spring (1944). Barbara Morgan, who had trained as a painter, photographed Graham from the late 1930s onwards, and Graham’s original world is now most widely known through Morgan’s records and interpretations."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Dust Storm, Cimmarron County, Oklahoma

Arthur Rothstein

"The farmer and his eldest son are pressing forward energetically into the wind, while the younger child- struggling to keep up- shields his eyes to protect them from the dust. The child’s gesture is the key to this scene, for it makes sense of the abraded foreground and the bleak, dust-filled sky. Without that defensive gesture, the whole picture would amount to little more than a fragment of derelict countryside. Rothstein asks his audience not to stand back and analyze but to imagine in their bodies what it might actually feel like to live in such a pitiless landscape. The photographer himself suffered eye damage due to exposure to the dust of Oklahoma, an area badly affected by drought and dust storms. This picture, taken by Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration (an American government agency set up to cope with the impact of the Depression and alter known as the Farm Security Administration), became an American icon and one of the great motifs of the 1930s."

The Photography Book
Phaidon Press

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Breathing Glass

Sandy Skoglund

"Breathing Glass depicts a blue landscape made primarily of various forms of glass. In the space float three blue mosaic figures that were originally standing on their heads. With the camera turned upside down after the photo session, the figures now appear detached from their surroundings, breathing not air, but glass. Breathing Glass emphasizes the frozen aspect of still photography using the material of glass and falling live models stopped in mid-air before hitting the ground. This is an other-worldly landscape, almost science fiction with the deep blue resonance of outer space above and below. The image may recall that little feeling of slippage in the moments before you fall asleep."
by Sandy Skoglund

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The Book of Sand, Without Beginning - Without End

Karin Hillmer

“‘He told me his book was called the Book of Sand because neither sand nor this book has a beginning or an end’

He suggested I try to find the first page.

I took the cover in my left hand and opened the book, my thumb and forefinger almost touching. It was impossible: several pages always lay between the cover and my hand. It was as though they grew from the very book.

‘Now try to find the end’

I failed there as well’”

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Book of Sand, Collected Fictions” 481

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He Was Perplexed; They Were 8297 Nanoseconds Too Late

Karin Hillmer

“And besides, every journey is a journey through space. Going from one planet to another is much like going to the farm across the way. When you stepped into this room, you were engaging in space travel”

Jorge Luis Borges, “A Weary Man’s Utopia, Collected Fictions” 462

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The Armillary Emerges Quietly from the Depths of the Universe

Karin Hillmer

“He was like a god who first created the Cosmos, and then Chaos”

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Immortal, Collected Fictions,” 191

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Circle of Life II, Amboseli, Kenya – 2015

David Yarrow

"Amboseli on the Kenyan-Tanzanian border is one of the best canvases to work with in the world. The amphitheater has an elemental starkness that suits my clean, ground-up style of photography – the backdrops are rarely that busy in this arid dustbowl. The name Amboseli means ‘place of dust’ and that is instructive. It is just a flat and raw terrain, albeit nestling below the towering Mount Kilimanjaro. I go to Amboseli for one principal purpose – to work close to elephants as they cross the dry. Lake in search of water in the park. When a big herd crosses, it is as serene a spectacle in the natural world as I have ever come across. That is why Amboseli holds such a special place in my heart. It offers the chance to capture evocative imagery of elephants in a barren and remote wilderness. Ten years ago, lake crossings of large herds were common, especially at the end of the summer dry season when the surface water was scarce and the elephants travelled from the Kilimanjaro foothills across the lake for the remaining sources of water. There is no greater friend to a wildlife photographer than repeat or predictable animal behavior. With the first rains arriving in late October, there were rarely tourists around and it often felt as if I had exclusive access to write the stories for the ‘daily elephant news’. The evening skies would often have a menacing, dark countenance, which complements the scorched earth below."

by David Yarrow


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Family, Amboseli, Kenya-2012

David Yarrow

"This is a special picture taken in a special place. Amboseli is the best canvas in the world on which to photograph elephants. In late October the lake is dry and huge herds make the daily trip across the scorched earth in search of water. This group contained elephants of every age and they composed themselves with great consideration for my lens. The protective instincts of the adult on the right of the image draw the eye in to the centre of the photograph. When I took the picture, there was no other vehicle within at least five miles – that is the joy of Amboseli."

by David Yarrow


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Funnel Creek, Alaska- 2016

David Yarrow

"To go on photographic assignment, there is much more a test of map work, spontaneity, people skills and quick thinking than it is of photographic prowess per se. To do a good job in this remarkable wilderness requires a respect for logistics - indeed that is what a lead photographer in the true wild must be - a logistics expert. Let’s start with a simple check. Google “Best places to photograph grizzly bears in Alaska” and there will be about 30 options articulated. The favourite places are designed for “weekend warrior” cameramen. Brooks Falls in Katmai for instance is effectively a zoo - with heavy park warden presence and soulless viewing stands. Kodiak Island has a huge number of bears, but because big game hunting is legal there, the bears are skittish and sometimes dangerous. Hallo Bay - site of the Disney Film “Bears” - has let success go to their heads and the bear viewing is overrated, expensive and too accessible. Setting up sensible and practical remote control positions leans me towards remote river banks and the summer salmon runs. Each river has its own unique salmon run and the times not only vary by David Yarrow between rivers over a 12-week period, but each river has a different pattern each year. If the salmon run a specific river starting on July 22nd one year, they could run 7 – 10 days either side of it the next year. This requires a need to be spontaneous and be on the ground picking up grass roots detail. ‘How are the salmon running’ became my opening gambit the second half of July. Bush plane by bush plane I narrowed down my focus to an area I knew well - 70 miles south of Illiamut on the Alaskan Peninsula. We deliberately flew very low over Funnel Creek earlier in the week and saw at least six adult bears fishing up river and so we touched down in the tiny village of Illiamut to discuss logistics. Every village in Alaska has a landing strip. The next day, we were dropped off by float plane on a tiny lake to walk the four miles through tundra and the river itself to the precise area where we had seen the bears. It is not for the faint hearted as these are big bears and it is the true wild. The chance came, half way through the day and we waited over an hour with the camera just 20 feet from the bear. It all happened in five seconds. I thought I had missed him to the right, but all was okay."

by David Yarrow


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Gladiator, Dinokeng, South Africa-2015

David Yarrow

"I love film – it is an industry that evolves and progresses all the time – in script, thematic plurality and – perhaps most of all – in cinematography. I would contend that there is not the gulf that some ascribe to the briefs of still photography and motion photography – surely they examine and demand the same sense of composition, lighting fluency and emotional investment. Great directors such as Clint Eastwood and Ridley Scott set standards that still photographers can always learn from. These men are the best at what they do and they do many things other than just shoot. I am in awe of (and hopefully influenced by) their attention to detail and perfectionism. Hollywood may be shallow, but it is also brutally meritocratic and that is instructive. Ridley Scott has directed many great award winning films that at the time were ahead of their time. He pushed visual and thematic boundaries in Blade Runner, he showed us contemporary Wild West America in Thelma and Louise and then with Gladiator he reminded us what an epic movie should look like. Scott also directed the famous Apple Mac commercial for the 1984 Super Bowl – which is now considered to be one the most relevant one minute adverts in the history of commercial advertising. It was an exceptional piece of filmmaking – both Scott and the Apple Macintosh were ahead of their time."

by David Yarrow


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Kaktovik, Alaska, USA-2015

David Yarrow

"In some ways this is a ridiculously lucky picture – it is rare to have this sort of access to polar bears in the wild. Furthermore, the positioning of the second polar bear is almost perfect and that was totally outside of my control. But I do believe that in fact this image endorses an approach which leans heavily on desk research, discomfort in the field and the preference for proximity, immersion and wide angle lenses. The 35m lens is my favorite lens and if I was to carry one picture in my wallet to explain why, it would be this picture. The 35m is such a crisp and examining conduit. At the time, I could not see what was in the viewfinder as I was holding the lens 30 inches below my eyes in order to get the right ground up perspective. All I remember is my heart pounding with a mixture of fear and adrenaline – which in retrospect is hardly surprising. My sense is that this picture will stand the test of time."

by David Yarrow


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Heaven Can Wait, Amboseli, Kenya – 2014

David Yarrow

"This is a hard-earned and timeless photograph, some pictures firmly grab our attention and then retain it and I do now believe that this is one. It has soul and a sense of place to it and I am proud to be responsible for its creation. There are many quiet days or weeks in the field, where there is nothing magical to capture and no transcending images with which to return. In my own crusade, this single image makes up for many of such days. ‘Heaven Can Wait’ has a biblical countenance – it is also primal and raw. The dramatic sky appears to be in communication with the only sign of life on the flat dustpan below. Indeed there is diagonal connectivity across the whole image as the dust tracks of the giraffe lead the eye to the animal, which then takes the eye to the talkative sky. The image conveys the arid and elemental habitat that is Lake Amboseli at the end of the dry season and the implicit contradiction of life on its inhospitable canvas. To take this image, I employed three of my key rules for filming in East Africa but then broke a fourth. The first two rules of working against the light and then employing a wide angle rather than telephoto lens were instinctive, but the third rule of working as close to the ground as possible was practically challenging in that we were chasing the lone giraffe in a jeep driving at 30 miles an hour on a crusty dry lake. The trick was to shoot blind from an outstretched hand leaning downwards to the ground from the jeep. This was – I knew – a low-percentage shot. We encountered the isolated giraffe late one afternoon on the dry lake, and it immediately seemed core to the prevailing mood to emphasis the dust being licked up by the giraffe’s hoofs. Amboseli is about dust and its capture should make the picture, not be ancillary to it. This meant not only shooting into the late light but also shooting from behind the giraffe. This was at odds with a fairly standard rule of mine to be positioned ahead or at least parallel to a moving subject – but given all the other factors involved; it appeared that breaking this rule would be the most effective way to tell the story. We are in the wild, not a studio, and it is often better to just go with the flow, think spontaneously and break rules."

by David Yarrow


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