As our interest in photography has grown, we have stumbled upon a number of photographers whose work we have enjoyed and who we have found inspiring. I doubt if you can detect their influence in our photographs and we would never flatter ourselves that they are there, as these are fantastic photographers, some of them real icons in the world of photography.
Lee Miller is one of the first great photographers to catch our eye. We first saw her work at a Photography museum in Mougins near Cannes about 5 years ago. She was a great friend of Picasso and this photo, which we first saw in Mougins, was taken at Picasso's house there. It was taken shortly after he had completed Guernica and in the photo are Paul Eluard and his wife Nusch (kissing), Man Ray w. girlfriend Ady, and Roland Penrose (Lee’s future husband) who is looking up. We found the photo fascinating, seeming to capture a kind of relaxed yet faintly decadent mood which for us, still today captures the mood of the south of France. An introduction to her from the National Portrait gallery inroduces her as follows. Lee Miller (1907-77) was one of the most extraordinary photographers of the 20th century. A legendary beauty and fashion model, Miller soon became an acclaimed photographer in her own right. Her relationships with Surrealist artist Man Ray and collector Roland Penrose placed her at the heart of 20th-century artistic and literary circles and, in a career spanning more than three decades, she came into contact with an astonishing range of people. Many of these became her friends and the subjects of her penetrating portraits, which include highly perceptive and sympathetic studies of Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Fred Astaire, Colette and Marlene Dietrich. The image is copyrighted but is not used here for commercial gain or profit and it is essential use, to demonstrate the skill of Lee Miller and the influence of her work - we believe therefore that this is fair use.
Helmut Newton first came to our attention bizarrely as a result of some photographs taken by a MINI enthusiast on MINI2 who did some "tongue in cheek" homage photos to the work of the great man. At times there is a brutality or starkness in his work that shocks and takes us out of our comfort zone but for all that he is a brilliant photographer whose work should be explored and appreciated by any budding photographic enthusiast. In 2008
Top Shop recreated The Helmut Newton Photo Machine from the seventies
. They introduced this icon of the photographic world in the following way:
"The point of my photography has always been to challenge myself.”
Born in Berlin in 1920, Newton achieved international fame in the 1970’s while working principally for French Vogue. Renowned for the precision and glamour of his photographs as well as the striking, often controversial scenarios he chose for his models. He photographed women looking powerful, sexually predatory and available.
Portraits of the beautiful, rich and famous have amplified his ever so real fantasy world.
The majority of Newton’s work was shot in the streets or in interiors, rather than the controlled environment of the studio. He was inspired by the German documentary photographer Erich Saloman and by Brassaï, the latter with whom he established a friendship. Much of his inspiration also derived from the daily newspapers, real life situations or paparazzi shots. Most striking was his ability to make a thoroughly planned photograph seem fresh and dynamic.
In 1975 Helmut Newton photographed Le Smoking for Yves St laurent and this has become an iconic photograph. When Yves Saint-Laurent first created the tuxedo for women in 1966 he was seen by many as having empowered women by giving them the option to wear clothes that were normally worn by men with influence and power. Having Helmut Newton do the photo shoot for a later reincarnation in 1975 rammed home that message beyond doubt. This photograph and his work has been an inspiration to us. The image is copyrighted but is not used here for commercial gain or profit and it is essential use, to demonstrate the skill of Helmut Newton and the influence of Yves St laurent- we believe therefore that this is fair use.
Brassai. We went to Paris for a long weekend in 2003 and stayed in Montmartre. Photography was not the big hobby it is now for us both. However, nonetheless we climbed a lot of steps that weekend as we tried to reproduce Brassai's famous photo of the steps of Montmartre - naturally we failed miserably but more than any other photo, it taught us the importance of strong blacks in a black and white image.
"When you meet the man you see at once that he is equipped with no ordinary eyes," comments writer Henry Miller on French photographer Brassai. And the sharpness of vision and depth of insight noted by Miller are revealed in Brassai’s lifelong photographic exploration of Paris—its people, places, and things. Brassai was a leading member of the French "school" of photography and he saw Paris as a subject of infinite grandeur, his photographs providing a sensitive and often extremely dramatic exploration of its people, its resplendent avenues, and endlessly intriguing byways. Brassai’s reputation was established with the publication of his first book, Paris at Night, now a modern classic. Some of the pictures in this book are sharply defined, brilliantly lit, while others capture the mistiness of rainy nights. Still others concentrate on the shadowy life of the underworld.
As Brassai created more and more pictures of Parisian life, his fame became international. His pictures of "Graffiti" (writings and drawings scribbled by countless individuals on the crumbling walls of buildings) were the subject of his one - man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Brassai has indicated something of his reason for making these pictures in the following statement: "the thing that is magnificent about photography is that it can produce images that incite emotion based on the subject matter alone."
Brassai has said many useful things about photography; one of the most valuable is the following statement: "We should try, without creasing to tear ourselves constantly by leaving our subjects and even photography itself from time to time, in order that we may come back to them with reawakened zest, with the virginal eye. That is the most precious thing we can possess". (Taken from www.photo-seminars.com)