First of all, while I was reading up on his journey to becoming a great photog I noticed a similarity to some other well known artists. So many of them started out working for re-known magazines. For example, Annie Leibovitz worked for Rolling Stones covering bands, Tim Walker worked in the Vogue archives, and Richard Avedon got in with Harper's Bazaar. This pattern is very interesting to me. As a non famous "young" photographer I find myself wondering, is that the secret formula? To simply know someone at a big publication? And what does that mean for us photographers living in the digital age where print has become less and less? I'm not sure what the answer is but I do know I will continue to take photos even if I never make the cover of anything. That's my formula and I'm sticking to it. Now back to Richard!
I think I first fell in love with Richard Avedon's work when I saw this photo. Let me see if I can break down why I love it. First, it has 3 things I love: animals, beauty lady in beautiful fashion and interesting composition. And the second reason I love it is because it I also hate it. I hate that the elephants are chained down and forced to perform. That grinds on my emotions which draws me in even more to the subject matter. I start to wonder about the model does she relate? Who is taking care of those elephants? Are they happy? I might be the only one who looks at this photo and wonders all of that bu I know it's more than just a pretty girl posing with animals so now I'm connected forever to it. Beauty, pain and skill. All in one frame.
The second time was when I saw his celebrity portraits. I knew I would have to add him to the top of my long list of photographers that inspire me.
Last year I had the chance to see an Avedon celebrity print in person.
One of my life quotes is by Richard.
"If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”
Those two lines just sum up the depression I get when I'm not shooting. I feel it in my gut. That deep feeling that something is missing.
And while researching for this post I found another one by him that strikes true.
"My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph."
After a new shoot I often find myself endlessly staring at the new finalized images. Some of them make me so proud. And I finally realized that it wasn't just the subject that I'm obsessing over but the fact that I see me. The progress I've made. The vision I saw in my head before the photo was even made. Is that bad? Doesn't that sound a little vain? I don't think so because it doesn't stop everyone else from still seeing the subject in the photo and that's what matters. I just love knowing that every photo a photographer takes isn't just about what's captured in the frame but really it's telling the a story about their life and the moments behind the camera.
Avedon is mostly known for his fashion and celebrity work (rightly so) but I love that he took on this 5 year photography challenge of capturing the American West. It's even considered his best body of work. I think at some point every artist needs to get out of the "same ole same ole" no matter what they create.
I hope you are as fascinated with this man and the photos he took as I am. I will leave you with this last one.
Don't you just love behind the scenes?!
(I borrowed all these images from the internet except the instagram shot - that one's mine).