Dmitry Baltermants

Dmitri Baltermants (13 May 1912 – 11 June 1990) was a prominent Soviet photojournalist.

Early life
Baltermants was born on 13 May 1912 in Warsaw, Poland. His father served in the Imperial Russian Army and was killed in the First World War.

Baltermants graduated from the Moscow State University.

First Decorated Heroes of Liberated Odessa. – Dmitri Baltermants ©

Career
Baltermants planned to become a math teacher in a Military Academy, but he fell in love with photography and began a career in the field of photojournalism in 1939. He was an official Kremlin photographer, worked for the daily Izvestia and was picture editor of the popular magazine Ogonyok.

During World War II, Baltermants covered the battle of Stalingrad, and the battles of the Red Army in Russia and Ukraine. He was twice wounded.

Just like his fellow photographers covering the Red Army during the war, Baltermants’ images were always censored by Soviet authorities to select only the ones that reflected on the positive sides of service to help boost morale.

Some of his most captivating photos were suppressed, and became public much later, in the 1960s. His work gained attention in the West where it was distributed by the Sovfoto agency.

Entertaining the Troops. – Dmitri Baltermants ©

One of the more famous images, called “Grief”, depicts a 1942 Nazi massacre of Jews in the Crimean city of Kerch. It shows the grief of village women as they search for the bodies of their loved ones. A powerful oversaturated sky above, burnt in during the printing of the photo, makes the image even more dramatic.

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Colour Chrome Effect

The development of Colour Chrome Effect is derived from a reversal film: fortia.

My stunning XPro-3 and I think all ‘newer’ Fujifilm X-Trans IV sensor cameras, have a ‘Colour Chrome Effect’ feature. If you have had the chance to shoot with the XPro-3 or say GFX, then you already know the effect from your hands-on experience.

©Fujifilm

The development of the Colour Chrome Effect is derived from a reversal film: fortia. The film was introduced to the market in 2004 with the catchphrase “Higher contrast and more vivid colour than Velvia”. It was a limited run, so although many talked about it, only a few have had a chance to try it out.

Fortia was praised among the enthusiasts. We often received questions like “how can you adjust the setting so that it resembles fortia?” or “if you set Colour +4 in Velvia mode, would it become fortia?”

©Fujifilm

Unfortunately, no matter what you do in Velvia mode, it will never turn into fortia. The colour reproduction ideal is different, to begin with. One of the characteristics of reversal colour film is that tonality remains even in the high contrast range. This is the reason why the colour never gets saturated and achieves depth in images shot with fortia, even though the contrast is higher than Velvia.

One of the reasons that fortia was a limited run was simply that the perception of this film was that it was only useful in certain situations. But the characteristic of low saturation with high contrast is much needed in the digital era. And if we were able to simulate Velvia, PROVIA, and ASTIA successfully, we had to try fortia.

©Fujifilm

When expressing colours such as red, orange, yellow, or yellow-green in high contrast, high brightness tends to exist. If contrast and brightness both reach their peaks, there is no room for tonality. As a result, the image becomes very flat.

However, by analysing the light and information received on the sensor surface, one can detect slight gradation. Colour Chrome Effect uses this to create tonality while maintaining high contrast. As a result, an image is achieved without losing its depth.

The effect is universal. Both the Adobe RGB and sRGB users can see the difference. But there is also a side effect: processing power is required. Even the X-Processor Pro needs about 1.0 sec. to process the Colour Chrome Effect. If you are a single-shot user, then this is not a problem. But you cannot shoot continuously or set it to AF-C mode.

Fujifilm recommends that you turn off the feature while shooting, and only have it on when processing RAW files in-camera. The XPro-3 can output Super Fine JPEG mode and TIFF. You can convert the RAW files in-camera first and brush up the final image on your Mac or PC.

Fujifilm asked the image designer who created the Colour Chrome Effect to replicate the Colour Chrome Effect by using image processing software. His answer was “yes, but it would take me an hour for each image. I also need to know the sensor characteristics of each image.

©Fujifilm

The image design team does not think the film simulation is the final touch on the colour. Every photographer seeks a different colour. But if a few clicks on the camera could save you an hour of labour, then you might as well just take advantage of it.

Fujifilm aims to perfect the film simulations so that no editing will be required, but if it only means a starting point, that is also perfectly fine.

©Fujifilm

Lillian Bassman

Early life and background
Her parents were Jewish intellectuals who emigrated to the United States from Ukraine (then in Russia) in 1905 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village, New York, and studied at the Textile High School in Manhattan with future artist Alexey Brodovitch and graduated in 1933.

More Fashion Mileage Per Dress: Barbara Vaughn in a dress by Filcol, New York. Harper’s Bazaar, 1956

Career
From the 1940s until the 1960s Bassman worked as a fashion photographer for Junior Bazaar and later at Harper’s Bazaar, where she promoted the careers of photographers such as Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer and Arnold Newman. Under the guidance of the Russian emigrant, Alexey Brodovitch, she began to photograph her model subjects primarily in black and white. Her work was published for the most part in Harper’s Bazaar from 1950 to 1965.

By the 1970s Bassman’s interest in pure form in her fashion photography was out of vogue. She turned to her own photo projects and abandoned fashion photography. In doing so she tossed out 40 years of negatives and prints—her life’s work. A forgotten bag filled with hundreds of images was discovered over 20 years later. Bassman’s fashion photographic work began to be re-appreciated in the 1990s.

Mary Jane Russell, New York. Harper’s Bazaar, 1950

She worked with digital technology and abstract colour photography into her nineties to create a new series of work. She used Photoshop for her image manipulation.

The most notable qualities about her photographic work are the high contrasts between light and dark, the graininess of the finished photos, and the geometric placement and camera angles of the subjects. Bassman became one of the last great woman photographers in the world of fashion. A generation later, Bassman’s pioneering photography and her mentor Alexey Brodovitch’s bold cropping and layout innovations were a seminal influence on Sam Haskins and his black and white work of the sixties.

Bassman died on February 13, 2012, at age 94.

More Fashion Mileage Per Dress: Barbara Vaughn in a dress by Filcol, New York. Harper’s Bazaar, 1956

Personal life
She first met her future husband, photographer Paul Himmel (born 1914), at Coney Island at age six. They met again at 13, and started living together when she was 15. They were married in 1935, and had two children. Himmel died in 2009 after 73 years of marriage.

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

David Bailey

David Royston Bailey CBE (born 2 January 1938) is an English fashion and portrait photographer.

Well I can’t write about Photographers, without mentioning David Royston Bailey! He was born on the 2nd January 1938. He is an English fashion and portrait photographer; and celebrity in his own right now!

David Bailey was born at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, to Herbert Bailey, a tailor’s cutter, and his wife, Gladys a machinist. From the age of three, he lived in East Ham.

Fashion and portrait photographer David Bailey sits in front of two of his 50 unseen oil paintings (Victoria Jones/PA)

Bailey developed a love of natural history, and this led him into photography. Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, he experienced problems at school. He attended a private school, Clark’s College in Ilford, where he says they taught him less than the more basic council school. As well as dyslexia he also has the motor skill disorder dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder).

In one school year, he claims he only attended 33 times. He left school on his fifteenth birthday, to become a copy boy at the Fleet Street offices of the Yorkshire Post. He raced through a series of dead-end jobs, before his call up for National Service in 1956, serving with the Royal Air Force in Singapore in 1957. The appropriation of his trumpet forced him to consider other creative outlets, and he bought a Rolleiflex camera.

Diana Vreeland & Alexander Leibermann 1977 © David Bailey

He was demobbed in August 1958, and determined to pursue a career in photography, he bought a Canon rangefinder camera. Unable to obtain a place at the London College of Printing because of his school record, he became a second assistant to David Ollins, in Charlotte Mews. He earned £3 10s (£3.50) a week and acted as studio dogsbody. He was delighted to be called to an interview with photographer John French.

Professional career

One of Bailey’s images of London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray
In 1959, Bailey became a photographic assistant at the John French studio, and in May 1960, he was a photographer for John Cole’s Studio Five, before being contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue magazine later that year. He also undertook a large amount of freelance work.

Along with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, Bailey captured and helped create the ‘Swinging London’ of the 1960s: a culture of fashion and celebrity chic. The three photographers socialised with actors, musicians and royalty, and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers, named by Norman Parkinson “the Black Trinity“.

Mick Jagger 1964 © David Bailey

The film Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, depicts the life of a London fashion photographer who is played by David Hemmings, whose character was inspired by Bailey. The “Swinging London” scene was aptly reflected in his Box of Pin-Ups (1964): a box of poster prints of 1960s celebrities including Terence Stamp, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, PJ Proby, Cecil Beaton, Rudolf Nureyev and East End gangsters, the Kray twins. The Box was an unusual and unique commercial release. It reflected the changing status of the photographer that one could sell a collection of prints in this way. Strong objection to the presence of the Krays by fellow photographer, Lord Snowdon, was the major reason no American edition of the “Box” was released, and that a second British edition was not issued. The record sale for a copy of ‘Box of Pin-Ups’ is reported as “north of £20,000“.

At Vogue Bailey was shooting covers within months, and, at the height of his productivity, he shot 800 pages of Vogue editorial in one year. Penelope Tree, a former girlfriend, described him as “the king lion on the Savannah: incredibly attractive, with a dangerous vibe. He was the electricity, the brightest, most powerful, most talented, most energetic force at the magazine“.

American Vogue’s creative director Grace Coddington, then a model herself, said “It was the Sixties, it was a raving time, and Bailey was unbelievably good-looking. He was everything that you wanted him to be – like the Beatles but accessible – and when he went on the market everyone went in. We were all killing ourselves to be his model, although he hooked up with Jean Shrimpton pretty quickly”.

Jean Shrimpton 1965 © David Bailey

Of model Jean Shrimpton, Bailey said: “She was magic and the camera loved her too. In a way she was the cheapest model in the world – you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it. She had the knack of having her hand in the right place, she knew where the light was, she was just a natural.”

Since 1966, Bailey has also directed several television commercials and documentaries. From 1968 to 1971 he directed and produced TV documentaries titled Beaton, Warhol and Visconti. As well as fashion photography, Bailey photographed album sleeve art for musicians including The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. One of Bailey’s most famous works depicts the Rolling Stones including Brian Jones, who drowned in 1969 while under the influence of drink and drugs. He is seen standing slightly apart from the rest of the group.

Bailey was hired in 1970 by Island Records’ Chris Blackwell to shoot publicity photos of Cat Stevens for his upcoming album Tea for the Tillerman. Stevens, who is now known as Yusuf Islam maintains that he disliked having his photo on the cover of his albums, as had previously been the case, although he allowed Bailey’s photographs to be placed on the inner sleeve of the album.

In 1972, rock singer Alice Cooper was photographed by Bailey for Vogue magazine, almost naked apart from a snake. Cooper used Bailey the following year to shoot for the group’s chart-topping ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album. The shoot included a babywearing shocking eye makeup and, supposedly, one billion dollars in cash requiring the shoot to be under armed guard. In 1976, Bailey published Ritz Newspaper together with David Litchfield. In 1985, Bailey was photographing stars at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium. As he recalled later: “The atmosphere on the day was great. At one point I got a tap on my shoulder and spun around. Suddenly there was a big tongue down my throat! It was Freddie Mercury.

In 1992, Bailey directed the BBC drama Who Dealt? starring Juliet Stevenson, story by Ring Lardner. In 1995 he directed and wrote the South Bank Film The Lady is a Tramp featuring his wife Catherine Bailey. In 1998 he directed a documentary with Ginger Television Production, Models Close Up, commissioned by Channel 4 Television.

In 2012, the BBC made a film of the story of his 1962 New York photoshoot with Jean Shrimpton, entitled We’ll Take Manhattan, starring Aneurin Barnard as Bailey.

In October 2013, Bailey took part in Art Wars at the Saatchi Gallery curated by Ben Moore. The artist was issued with a stormtrooper helmet, which he transformed into a work of art. Proceeds went to the Missing Tom Fund set up by Ben Moore to find his brother Tom who has been missing for over ten years. The work was also shown on the Regents Park platform as part of Art Below Regents Park.

In October 2020 Bailey’s Memoir “Look Again” in co-operation with author James Fox was published by Macmillan Books a review on his life and work.

Fashion
Bailey began working with fashion brand Jaeger in the late 1950s when Jean Muir landed the role of a designer. After working alongside other fashion photographers such as the late Norman Parkinson, Bailey was officially commissioned by Vogue in 1962.

His first shoot in New York City was of young model Jean Shrimpton, who wore a range of Jaeger and Susan Small clothing, including a camel suit with a green blouse and a suede coat worn with kitten heels. The shoot was titled ‘Young Idea Goes West’.

After 53 years Bailey returned to Jaeger to shoot their AW15 campaign. As a menswear subject; James Penfold modelled tailored tweed blazers and a camel coat. Also on the shoot was model, philanthropist and film director Elisa Sednaoui along with GQ magazine’s most stylish male 2003, Martin Gardner.

Naomi Campbell as Josephina Baker 1989 © David Bailey

In popular culture
In the 1970s Bailey lost some equipment in a robbery and replaced it with the new Olympus OM system equipment which was substantially smaller and lighter than contemporary competitors’ equipment. He then appeared in advertising promoting the Olympus OM-1 35 mm single-lens reflex camera. He subsequently appeared in a series of UK TV commercials for the Olympus Trip camera.

Personal life
Bailey has been married four times: in 1960 to Rosemary Bramble; in 1965 to the actress Catherine Deneuve (divorced 1972); in 1975 to American fashion model and writer Marie Helvin; and in 1986 to the model Catherine Dyer (born 20 July 1961), to whom he remains married. He is a long-time vegetarian and refrains from drinking alcohol. An art-lover with a long-held passion for the works of Picasso, his company address is in London and his wife is listed as a Director under her married name Catherine Caliope Bailey, together with their photographer son Fenton Fox Bailey. The family maintain a home on Dartmoor, near Plymouth. His youngest son b.June 1994 Sascha Taday Bailey, is an art curator.

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Shooting Sports Events

As someone who has worked as a photographer for over ten years, I have a particular way of working when I attend an event.

As a photographer for over ten years, I have a particular way of working when I attend an event, whether it is at my local football club or local Equestrian events.

Much has been said about what camera and lenses to use, but, for me, preparation is a key factor in getting better shots. The better prepared you are, the better your images will turn out, and this doesn’t just apply to sports photography; it is right for all genres. Below are my top ten tips for shooting fast action sport.

  1. Know Your Sport

Before you can shoot something well, you need to know your subject. If you know how an event is run, then you have a better chance of anticipating the action unfolding in front of you.

If you are shooting a sport for the first time, do some research online – YouTube is an excellent resource for sports videos. Watch the sport, but also make a note of where the photographers are standing.

© Narrating Images – Cirencester Horse Trails
  1. Contact the Team or Event

If you are attending an event where you have to pay an entry fee, such as a football stadium, then it is best to check in advance that cameras with interchangeable lenses are allowed in. There is nothing worse than turning up at the gate to be stopped from going into the stadium because you have a ‘professional’ camera.

Horse Jumping is one sport where you are actively encouraged to bring a camera, and your local football club at the local park will probably also have no issues. But as a rule of thumb, if you are going into a stadium and paying for a ticket, its best to give them a ring first, to make sure you are allowed to take your camera.

WEC in Japan
  1. Know Your Camera

I liken using a camera to driving a car. Experienced drivers don’t think about changing gear or turning the steering wheel; it’s second nature when you drive regularly. It should be the same with your camera and lenses. If you are fiddling with the controls at a critical moment, then you might miss the shot.

I also have all my cameras set the same way so I can move quickly and smoothly from one camera to the other, which reduces the need to swap lenses.

  1. Dress for the Conditions

Billy Connolly is quoted as saying “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes.” Never a more accurate word has been spoken when it comes to sports photography as you have to be out in all weathers and conditions.

You could be indoors, but you’ll still need to wrap up warm if you are shooting, say an ice hockey match. In the summer, wear clothes that will keep you cool and protected, especially if you are out in the sun.

Always check the weather forecast 24 hours in advance and plan accordingly, and that means planning for the worst-case scenario – because you never know with British weather!

  1. Get into Position

Choose your shooting positions carefully and always look at the backgrounds for distractions. It could be some parked cars or a steward in a bright yellow jacket or something else that will take the viewer’s eye from the subject.

For most sports, make sure you stay behind the barriers and you never stand in what are classed as Red Zones (danger areas). If you are attending as a spectator try to get a position where you can shoot over the fences to get a clear shot, or get up close and shoot through a linked fence using a wide aperture to blur out the links.

If you are shooting team sports at your local club, you should be able to move around. Try and shoot head on to the players but make sure you don’t cause a distraction. I also like to get down low to give a better angle. At the big games, we usually sit on stools behind the goal or try line so we are shooting lower than if we were standing up. This is actually a good perspective to shoot.

Eventing – Forgandenny
  1. Choosing the Right Camera and Lens

Now, this obviously depends on the sport you are shooting. To be honest, any X Series camera with interchangeable lenses is capable of shooting sport but, obviously, the top end bodies like the new Fujifilm X-Pro3 or GFX cameras offer certain advantages, especially when it comes to autofocus speed and accuracy.

It is the lenses that makes the difference, and you should always buy the best you can afford. The good news is all XF lenses offer great optical quality. The focal length of the lens is an important consideration. There is no point trying to get a frame-filling action shot at a motorsport event with an XF18-55mm zoom, but you can still get great shots with that lens if you shoot to show the environment around the subject.

© Narrating Images – Cirencester Horse Trails

The best choice for sports photography is either the XF 200mmF2 and 1.4x converter or the XF 70-300mm F4-5.6. If you don’t need such a long focal length, then consider the brilliant XF50-140mmF2.8 (with or without converters) or the highly capable XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8. Don’t ignore standard and wide-angle lenses for sport; just choose your subjects wisely.

© Narrating Images – Cirencester Horse Trails
  1. Capturing the Action

For team sports freezing the action usually means setting a fast shutter speed (1/1000s or faster). However, it depends on your subject. For example, a horse rider on the course doing 30mph will be frozen if you shoot at 1/2000s, which doesn’t convey the sense of speed you get while watching the race. With static legs, the horse can look like it stopped on the course rather than moving at high speed.

© Narrating Images – Cirencester Horse Trails

You can use high shutter speeds for Equestrian events, but it is usually used for horse racing, when they are battling for a position or for head-on shots, such as the start shot. If you drop the shutter down to 1/125s or slower and follow the subject as you press the shutter release (a technique known as ‘panning’) you can inject a real sense of speed into the image.

This technique can also be used in other sports to give a different image from the norm. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shutter speeds.

Musselburgh horse racing
  1. Think Out of the Box

When attending a sports event, it is very easy just to concentrate on the action on the field or on the track. Look around you and try to capture a flavour of the whole event. It could be fans enjoying the event, the celebrations of the winning team or the dejected look of the losers. Look beyond the obvious photo opportunities.

Pictures that give a flavour of the event. This is a spectator on a rainy day.
  1. Automatic or Manual Exposure?

This really depends on what you are shooting. I shoot in manual exposure and control the shutter speed on the rear dial of my X-Pro3, the ISO on the front dial and the aperture on the lens.

Some photographers prefer to use shutter priority with the aperture left on its widest setting, the shutter set to the speed needed to capture the action and the ISO left on auto. However, when shooting sport where sunlight hits the water or headlights on a car, it could cause the image to be underexposed. Conversely, capturing skiing or ice skating could mean the predominantly white background means the images are underexposed. In these situations, you need to override the automatic setting by dialling in some exposure compensation.

This is the main reason I choose to shoot in manual exposure and use my experience, and what I see in the EVF, to judge the exposure.

© Narrating Images – Cirencester Horse Trails
  1. Bumping Up the ISO

Don’t be afraid to bump the ISO up to 6400 or even 12800 if you can’t maintain an action freezing shutter speed with the maximum aperture of the lens you are using. The latest X-Trans sensors can handle high ISO settings really well.

It is far better to have a noisy image rather than a blurred image due to the shutter speed not being high enough. You can always add a bit of noise reduction in post.

I have also underexposed an image when shooting RAW files and then adjusting the exposure in post-production. Be careful, however, if you are using this method as this can introduce noise into the final image.

©Fujifilm

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon was born in New York City to a Jewish family. His father, Jacob Israel Avedon, was a Russian-born immigrant who advanced from menial work to starting his own successful retail dress business on Fifth Avenue called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue.

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004) was an American fashion and portrait photographer. He worked for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, specializing in capturing movement in still pictures of fashion, theatre and dance. An obituary published in The New York Times said that “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century”.

© The Richard Avedon Foundation

Early Life and education
Avedon was born in New York City to a Jewish family. His father, Jacob Israel Avedon, was a Russian-born immigrant who advanced from menial work to starting his own successful retail dress business on Fifth Avenue called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. His mother, Anna, from a family that owned a dress-manufacturing business, encouraged Richard’s love of fashion and art. Avedon’s interest in photography emerged when, at age 12, he joined a Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) Camera Club. He would use his family’s Kodak Box Brownie not only to feed his curiosity about the world but also to retreat from his personal life. His father was a critical and remote disciplinarian, who insisted that physical strength, education, and money prepared one for Life. The photographer’s first muse was his younger sister, Louise. During her teen years, she struggled through psychiatric treatment, eventually becoming increasingly withdrawn from reality and diagnosed with schizophrenia. These early influences of fashion and family would shape Avedon’s Life, and career often expressed in his desire to capture tragic beauty in photos.

The Comforts Portfolio, #02, A Fable in 24 Episodes, Montauk, New York, August 1995.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in Bedford Park, Bronx, where from 1937 until 1940 he worked on the school paper, The Magpie, with James Baldwin. As a teen, he also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton that year, he enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry but dropped out after one year. He then started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines, taking ID shots of the crewmen with the Rolleiflex camera his father had given him. From 1944 to 1950, Avedon studied photography with Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory at The New School for Social Research.

Photography career
In 1944, Avedon began working as an advertising photographer for a department store but was quickly endorsed by Alexey Brodovitch, who was art director for the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Lillian Bassman also promoted Avedon’s career at Harper’s. In 1945, his photographs began appearing in Junior Bazaar and, a year later, in Harper’s Bazaar.

In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. From 1950, he also contributed photographs to Life, vague Look and Graphis and in 1952 became Staff Editor and photographer for Theatre Arts Magazine. Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking studio fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action in outdoor settings, which was revolutionary at the time. However, towards the end of the 1950s, he became dissatisfied with daylight photography and open air locations and so turned to studio photography, using strobe lighting.

Lauren Hutton, sweater by Van Raalte, Great Exuma, The Bahamas, October 1968.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

When Diana Vreeland left Harper’s Bazaar for Vogue in 1962, Avedon joined her as a staff photographer. He proceeded to become the lead photographer at Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1973 until Anna Wintour became editor in chief in late 1988. Notable among his fashion advertisement series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace, beginning with the spring/summer campaign in 1980. He also photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields, as well as directing her in the accompanying television commercials. Avedon first worked with Shields in 1974 for a Colgate toothpaste ad. He shot her for Versace, 12 American Vogue covers and Revlon’s Most Unforgettable Women campaign. In the February 9, 1981, issue of Newsweek, Avedon said that “Brooke is a lightning rod. She focuses the inarticulate rage people feel about the decline in contemporary morality and destruction of innocence in the world.” On working with Avedon, Shields told Interview magazine in May 1992, “When Dick walks into the room, a lot of people are intimidated. But when he works, he’s so acutely creative, so sensitive. And he doesn’t like it if anyone else is around or speaking. There are a mutual vulnerability and a moment of fusion when he clicks the shutter. You either get it, or you don’t”.

In addition to his continuing fashion work, by the 1960s Avedon was making studio portraits of civil rights workers, politicians and cultural dissidents of various stripes in an America fissured by discord and violence. He branched out into photographing patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, and later the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Nastassja Kinski, actress, Los Angeles, June 14, 1981.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

A personal book called “Nothing Personal,” with a text by his high school classmate James Baldwin, appeared in 1964. During this period, Avedon also created two well-known sets of portraits of The Beatles. The first, taken in mid to late 1967, became one of the first major rock poster series and consisted of five psychedelic portraits of the group — four heavily solarized individual colour portraits, and a black-and-white group portrait taken with a Rolleiflex camera and a normal Planar lens. The next year, he photographed the much more restrained portraits that were included with The Beatles LP in 1968. Among the many other rock bands photographed by Avedon, in 1973, he shot Electric Light Orchestra with all the members exposing their bellybuttons for recording On the Third Day.

Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he photographed many noted people in his studio with a large-format 8×10 view camera. His subjects include Buster Keaton, Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, Ezra Pound, Isak Dinesen, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol, and the Chicago Seven. His portraits are distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely at the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. By eliminating the use of soft lights and props, Avedon was able to focus on the inner worlds of his subjects evoking emotions and reactions. He would at times evoke reactions from his portrait subjects by guiding them into uncomfortable areas of discussion or asking them psychologically probing questions. Through these means, he would produce images revealing aspects of his subject’s character and personality that were not typically captured by others.

Avedon’s mural groupings featured emblematic figures: Andy Warhol with the players and stars of The Factory; The Chicago Seven, political radicals charged with conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and his extended family; and the Mission Council, a group of military and government officials who governed the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War.

New York Life #19, Central Park West, New York, November 17, 1949.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

In 1982 Avedon produced a playfully inventive series of advertisements for fashion label Christian Dior, based on the idea of film stills. They were featuring director Andre Gregory, photographer Vincent Vallarino and model/actress Kelly Le Brock, the colour photographs purported to show the wild antics of a fictional “Dior family” living ménage à trois while wearing elegant fashions.

Avedon became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992, where his post-apocalyptic, wild fashion fable “In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort,” featuring model Nadja Auermann and a skeleton, was published in 1995. Other pictures for the magazine, ranging from the first publication, in 1994, of previously unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe to a resonant rendering of Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair and nude photographs of Charlize Theron in 2004, were topics of wide discussion. Some of his less controversial New Yorker portraits include those of Saul Bellow, Hillary Clinton, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, John Kerry, and Stephen Sondheim. In his later years, he continued to contribute to Egoïste, where his photographs appeared from 1984 through 2000. In 1999, Avedon shot the cover photos for Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada’s Addicted to You.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz names Avedon as a major influence, describing his style as ‘personal reportage’, developing a close rapport with one’s subjects.

In the American West
The cover of Avedon’s book In the American West (1985)
One of the things Avedon is distinguished by as a photographer is his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and travelling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th-century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon’s magnum opus.

Serious heart inflammations hindered Avedon’s health in 1974. The troubling time inspired him to create a compelling collection from a new perspective. In 1979, he was commissioned by Mitchell A. Wilder (1913–1979), the director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, to complete the “Western Project.” Wilder envisioned the project to portray Avedon’s take on the American West. It became a turning point in Avedon’s career when he focused on everyday working-class subjects such as miners soiled in their work clothes, housewives, farmers and drifters on larger-than-life prints, instead of the more traditional options of focusing upon noted public figures or the openness and grandeur of the West. The project lasted five years, concluding with an exhibition and a catalogue. It allowed Avedon and his crew to photograph 762 people and expose approximately 17,000 sheets of 8×10 Kodak Tri-X Pan film. The collection identified a story within his subjects of their innermost self, a connection Avedon admits would not have happened if his new sense of mortality through severe heart conditions and ageing hadn’t occurred. Avedon visited and travelled through state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughterhouses and prisons to find subjects. In 1994, Avedon revisited his subjects who would later speak about In the American West aftermath and its direct effects. Billy Mudd, a trucker, went long periods of time on his own away from his family. He was a depressed, disconnected and lonely man before Avedon offered him the chance to be photographed. When he saw his portrait for the first time, Mudd saw that Avedon was able to reveal something about Mudd that allowed him to recognize the need for change in his Life. The portrait transformed Mudd and led him to quit his job and return to his family.

Helen Whitney’s 1996 American Masters documentary episode, Avedon: Darkness and Light, depicts an ageing Avedon identifying In the American West as his best body of work. The project was embedded with Avedon’s goal to discover new dimensions within himself, from a Jewish photographer from the East who celebrated the lives of noted public figures, to an ageing man at one of the last chapters of his Life, to discovering the inner-worlds, and untold stories of his Western rural subjects.

During the production period, Avedon encountered problems with size availability for quality printing paper. While he experimented with platinum printing, he eventually settled on Portriga Rapid, a double-weight, fibre-based gelatin silver paper manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert. Each print required meticulous work, with an average of thirty to forty manipulations. Two exhibition sets of In the American West were printed as artist proofs, one set to remain at the Carter after the exhibition there, and the other, property of the artist, to travel to the subsequent six venues. Overall, the printing took nine months, consuming about 68,000 square feet (6,300 m2) of paper.

While In the American West is one of the Avedon’s most notable works, it has often been criticized for falsifying the West through voyeuristic themes and for exploiting his subjects. Critics question why a photographer from the East who traditionally focuses on models or public figures would go out West to capture the working class members who represent hardship and suffering. They argue that Avedon’s intentions are to influence and evoke condescending emotions from the viewer, such as pity.

The Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Convention, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C., October 15, 1963.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

Exhibitions
Avedon had numerous museum exhibitions around the world. His first major retrospective was at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1970. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, presented two solo exhibitions during his lifetime, in 1978 and 2002. In 1980 another retrospective was organized by the University Art Museum in Berkeley. Major retrospectives were mounted at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1994), and at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2007; who travelled to Milan, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco, through 2009). Showing Avedon’s work from his earliest, sun-splashed pictures in 1944 to portraits in 2000 that convey his fashion fatigue, the International Center of Photography in 2009 mounted the largest survey of his fashion work. Also in 2009, the Corcoran Gallery of Art showed Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power, bringing together his political portraits for the first time.

Art market
In 2010, a record price of £719,000 was achieved at Christie’s for a unique seven-foot-high print of model Dovima, posing in a Christian Dior evening dress with elephants from the Cirque d’Hiver, Paris, in 1955. This particular print, the largest of this image, was made in 1978 for Avedon’s fashion retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and was bought by Maison Christian Dior.

Sunny Harnett and Alla, evening dresses by Balmain, Casino, Le Touquet, August 1954.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

Personal Life and death
In 1944, Avedon married 19-year-old bank teller Dorcas Marie Nowell, who later became the model and actress Doe Avedon; they did not have children and divorced in 1949. The couple summered at the gay village of Cherry Grove, Fire Island, and Avedon’s bisexuality has been attested to by colleagues and family. He was reportedly devastated when Nowell left him.

In 1951, he married Evelyn Franklin; she died on March 13, 2004. Their marriage produced one son, John Avedon, who has written extensively about Tibet.

In 1970, Avedon purchased a former carriage house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that would serve as both his studio and apartment. In the late 1970s, he purchased a four-bedroom house on a 7.5-acre (3.0 ha) estate in Montauk, New York, between the Atlantic Ocean and a nature preserve; he sold it for almost $9 million in 2000.

Avedon’s nephew is martial arts actor Loren Avedon.

Avedon’s grandson is the photographer Michael Avedon.

According to Norma Stevens, Avedon’s longtime studio director, Avedon confided in her about his homosexual relationships, including a decade-long affair with director Mike Nichols.

On October 1, 2004, Avedon died in a San Antonio, Texas hospital of complications from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was in San Antonio shooting an assignment for The New Yorker. At the time of his death, he was also working on a new project titled Democracy to focus on the run-up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Legacy
The Richard Avedon Foundation is a private operating foundation, structured by Avedon during his lifetime. It began its work shortly after his death in 2004. Based in New York, the foundation is the repository for Avedon’s photographs, negatives, publications, papers, and archival materials. In 2006, Avedon’s personal collection was shown at the Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and at the Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and later sold to benefit the Avedon Foundation. The collection included photographs by Martin Munkacsi, Edward Steichen and Man Ray, among others. A slender volume, Eye of the Beholder: Photographs From the Collection of Richard Avedon (Fraenkel Gallery), assembles the majority of the collection in a boxed set of five booklets: “Diane Arbus,” “Peter Hujar”, “Irving Penn”, “The Countess de Castiglione” and “Etcetera,” which includes 19th- and 20th-century photographers.

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Spontaneous

I grabbed this shot on the evening before the end of the second Covid lockdown. It was taken with an old Olympus 35mm film camera

I grabbed this shot on the evening before the end of the second Covid lockdown. It was taken with an old Olympus 35mm film camera, loaded with Kodak Gold film – I then used a ‘little’ post-production to remove some of the grain, giving the image more clarity and structure.

© Narrating Images – Lockdown

Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki known primarily for photography that blends eroticism and bondage in a fine art context, he has published over 500 books.

Nobuyoshi Araki (荒木 経惟, Araki Nobuyoshi, May 25, 1940) is a Japanese photographer and contemporary artist professionally known by the mononym Arākī (アラーキー). Known primarily for photography that blends eroticism and bondage in a fine art context, he has published over 500 books.

Nobuyoshi Araki –

Early life and education
Araki was born in Tokyo on May 25, 1940. He studied film and photography at Chiba University from 1959, receiving a degree in 1963. He worked at the advertising agency Dentsu, where, in 1968, he met his future wife, the essayist Yōko Aoki.

© Nobuyoshi Araki

Art career
Araki is one of the most prolific Japanese artists. Many of his photographs are erotic, straddling a line between art and pornography. Among his photography books are Sentimental Journey (1971), and Tokyo Lucky Hole (1990). Sentimental Journey “1972–1992” is a diary of life with his wife Yōko, who died of ovarian cancer in 1990. The first part of Sentimental Journey shows the couple embarking on married life—their honeymoon and sexual relations. Pictures taken during Yoko’s last days were published in Winter Journey.

Parr and Badger include four of Araki’s books in the first volume of their photobook history: Zerokkusu Shashincho 24 (Xeroxed Photo Album), Senchimentaru na Tabi (Sentimental Journey), Tokyo Lucky Hole, and Shokuji (The Banquet).

© Nobuyoshi Araki

Araki contributed photography to the Sunrise anime series Brain Powerd.

In 1981, Araki directed High School Girl Fake Diary (女高生偽日記, Jokōsei nise nikki), a roman porno film, for the studio Nikkatsu. The film was a disappointment to Araki’s fans and to fans of the pink film genre.

© Nobuyoshi Araki

The Icelandic musician Björk is an admirer of Araki’s work, and served as one of his models. At her request, he photographed the cover and inner sleeve pages of her 1997 remix albumTelegram. More recently, he has photographed pop singer Lady Gaga.

In 2005, an American director, Travis Klose, recorded a documentary about Araki called Arakimentari, which discusses the artist’s lifestyle and work.

Araki was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008; he underwent successful surgery to remove the tumor.

In 2010, Araki’s cat, Chiro, died of old age.

In October 2013, Araki lost vision in his right eye due to a retinal artery obstruction. The 74-year-old artist used the experience as an inspiration to exhibit Love on the left eye, held on 21 June 2014 at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.

Commissioned by Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta, Araki photographed Saskia de Brauw and Sung Jin Park in Tokyo for the brand’s spring/summer 2015 campaign.

© Nobuyoshi Araki

Controversy
Araki is known for his intimate access to models. When asked about this in 2011, he bragged that he gained access through sex.

In April 2018, Kaori, a model who posed for Araki from 2001 to 2016, wrote a blog post about her relationship with Araki in which she accused him of financial and artistic exploitation. Kaori stated that “she worked without a contract, was forced to take part in explicit shoots in front of strangers, was not regularly paid and that her nude images were often used without her consent.” In 2017, when she requested that he stop republishing or exhibiting some photographs of her, Araki wrote to Kaori, warning that she had no rights. She states that the experience led to psychological trauma and ill health. Kaori stated that the Me Too movement had encouraged her to speak out. The accusations have raised questions about the power dynamics between a photographer and his subject. In order to raise awareness of Kaori’s claims, the activist group Angry Asian Girls Association protested the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Araki at C/O Berlin December 2018.

© Nobuyoshi Araki

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Depth of field

The X-Pro range of cameras I use has two options for ‘Depth of Field Scale’: Pixel basis and Film format basis. This will enable you to adjust the camera setting to suit your need and style.

Where do you set the focus? This is a question we should always consider. How accurately do you want to focus? That is another critical question is on what basis are you adjusting the focus? Does it suit your needs and style?


The X-Pro range of cameras I use has two options for ‘Depth of Field Scale‘: Pixel basis and Film format basis. This will enable you to adjust the camera setting to suit your need and style.

Technically, the only region that is in focus is one particular plane parallel to the optical axis. All other areas will be out of focus, even when moved by 1mm. All other planes are in ‘bokeh‘; theoretically that is. The reality is that the amount of bokeh is so tiny that it appears to be sharp. You can basically ignore it. ‘Depth of Field‘ is about the plane in focus and areas in front and back of the plane that appear to be in focus (although it is defocused in theory).

The bokeh in the defocused area is referred to as ‘circle of confusion’. The ‘permissible circle of confusion‘ is the bokeh that is almost indistinguishable. Bigger the maximum permissible circle of confusion, the deeper the depth of field it gets. They are proportionally related.

©Fujifilm

The problem is this ‘permissible circle of confusion‘ changes depending on the image sensor resolution and the viewing condition.

The resolution of the image sensor is much higher than that of the silver-halide films, and the circle of confusion is therefore smaller. In addition, pixel-peeping has gotten popular, so the ‘permissible‘ circle of confusion is much more restricted—the ‘shallower‘ depth of field demands for much more accurate focus position and area. The depth of field scale on a pixel basis is optimised for such needs.

However, for some people, the depth of field becomes useful only when it is deep. Snap shooting, for example, takes advantages of the deepness of the depth of field and does not demand a more accurate and strict scale.

Go out in the street. Set the aperture to f/8. Search for the light. Find the composition. Predict the subject movement. Set the focus position based on the prediction. Do not get overly concerned about the accuracy; the ‘depth of field‘ will cover the error…. You can see that in such a style of photography, one benefits from the greater permissible area.

This is something that is inherited from the silver-halide film days. And to match this sense of feeling, we have the ‘Film format basis’. (*The value is based on the 4P print viewed at a standard distance.)

©Fujifilm

There is no correct answer. You should make the selection based on your style and needs. If the viewing size is already determined, then you can make your choice based on it. You do not have to stick to one basis either; you can always go back and forth.

For your information, the XF14mm, XF16mm, and XF23mm has a depth of field scale on the lens barrel based on the film format. If your style is to grab a shot by eye measurement or manual focus, these three lenses can help you.

©Fujifilm

Manuel Álvarez Bravo

Manuel Álvarez Bravo was born in Mexico City, his father was a teacher, but pursued painting, photography and writing, producing several plays and his grandfather was a professional portrait maker.

Manuel Álvarez Bravo (February 4, 1902 – October 19, 2002) was a Mexican artistic photographer and one of the most influential figures in 20th-century Latin American photography. He was born and raised in Mexico City. While he took art classes at the Academy of San Carlos, his photography is self-taught. His career spanned from the late 1920s to the 1990s with its artistic peak between the 1920s and 1950s. His hallmark as a photographer was to capture images of the ordinary but in ironic or Surrealistic ways. His early work was based on European influences, but he was soon influenced by the Mexican muralism movement and the general cultural and political push at the time to redefine Mexican identity. He rejected the picturesque, employing elements to avoid stereotyping. He had numerous exhibitions of his work, worked in the Mexican cinema and established Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana publishing house. He won numerous awards for his work, mostly after 1970. His work was recognized by the UNESCO Memory of the World registry in 2017.

© Alvarez Bravo

Álvarez Bravo was born in Mexico City on February 4, 1902. His father was a teacher, but pursued painting, photography and writing, producing several plays and his grandfather was a professional portrait maker. Because of this, Alvarez Bravo had early exposure to the medium. He grew up in the historic centre of Mexico City behind the Cathedral, in one of the many former colonial buildings converted into apartments for the city’s middle and lower classes. He was eight years old when the Mexican Revolution began. He could hear gunfire and came across dead bodies as a child. This would affect his photography later.

From 1908 to 1914 Alvarez Bravo attended elementary at the Patricio Saénz boarding school in Tlalpan, but he had to leave school at the age of twelve when his father died. He worked as a clerk at a French textile factory for some time, and later at the Mexican Treasury Department. He studied accounting at night for a while but then switched to art classes at the Academy of San Carlos. Alvarez Bravo met Hugo Brehme in 1923 and bought his first camera in 1924. He began experimenting with it, with some advice from Brehme and subscriptions to photography magazines. In 1927, he met photographer Tina Modotti. Álvarez Bravo had admired Modotti’s work in magazines such as Forma and Mexican Folkways even before they met. She introduced him to several intellectuals and artists in Mexico City, including photographer Edward Weston, who encouraged him to continue with the craft.

© Alvarez Bravo

During his lifetime, Alvarez Bravo married three times, with all three wives photographers in their own right. His first wife was Lola Alvarez Bravo, whom he married in 1925, just as he was beginning his career as a freelance photographer. He taught her the craft, but she did not achieve the renown that he did. They had one son, Manuel and separated in 1934. His second wife was Doris Heyden, and his third was French photographer Colette Álvarez Urbajtel.

In 1973 he donated his personal collection of photographs and cameras to the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. An additional 400 photographs are purchased by the Mexican government for the Museo de Arte Moderno.

He died on October 19, 2002.

Career
Álvarez Bravo’s photography career spanned from the late 1920s to the 1990s. It formed in the decades after the Mexican Revolution (1920s to 1950s) when there was significant creative output in the country, much of it sponsored by the government wanting to promote a new Mexican identity based on both modernity and the country’s indigenous past.

Although he was photographing in the late 1920s, he became a freelance photographer full-time in 1930, quitting his government job. That same year, Tina Modotti was deported from Mexico for political activities and she left Alvarez Bravo her camera and her job at Mexican Folkways magazine. For this publication, Alvarez Bravo began photographing the work of the Mexican muralists and other painters. During the rest of the 1930s, he established his career. He met photographer Paul Strand in 1933 on the set of the film “Redes”, and worked with him briefly. In 1938, he met French Surrealist artist André Breton, who promoted Alvaréz Bravo’s work in France, exhibiting it there. Later, Breton asked for a photograph for the cover of catalog for an exhibition in Mexico. Alvarez Bravo created “La buena fama durmiendo” (The good reputation sleeping), which Mexican censors rejected due to nudity. The photograph would be reproduced many times after that however.

Alvarez Bravo trained most of the next generation of photographers including Nacho López, Héctor García and Graciela Iturbide. From 1938 to 1939, he taught photography at the Escuela Central de Artes Plásticas, now the National School of Arts (UNAM). In the latter half of the 1960s he taught at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos.

© Alvarez Bravo

From 1943 to 1959, he worked in the Mexican film industry doing still shots, prompting him to experiment some with cinema. In 1949, he collaborated with José Revueltas in an experimental film called Coatlicue. In 1957 he worked making stills for the film Nazarín by Luis Buñuel.

His career included over 150 individual exhibitions of his work along with participation in over 200 collective exhibitions. In 1928, a photograph of his was chosen to be exhibited in the First Salón Mexciano de la Fotografía. His first individual exhibition was at the Galería Posada in Mexico City in 1932. In 1935, he exhibited with Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, with catalogue texts from Langston Hughes and Luis Cardoza y Aragón. In 1940 his work was part of a surrealist exhibition by André Breton at the gallery belonging to Inés Amor. Edward Steichen selected three of Bravo’s pictures for MoMA’s 1955 The Family of Man exhibition which was exhibited around the world, seen by more people than any other to date. In 1968, the Palacio de Bellas Artes held a retrospective of four decades of Alvarez Bravo’s work. He exhibited at the Pasadena Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1971, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington in 1978, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 1983 and the National Library in Madrid in 1985. From 1994 to 1995 Evidencias de lo invisible, cien fotografías (Evidence of the Invisible, One Hundred Photographs) was presented at the Fine Arts Museum in New Delhi, the Imperial Palace in Beijing and the Belém Cultural Center in Lisbon. In 2001, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles hosted a retrospective of his work.

His first publication was in 1945, writing the book “El arte negro.” His photographs appeared in many publications over his career including the book México: pintura de hoy by Luis Cardoza y Aragón in 1964. He co wrote and provided the photographs for the book Instante y revelación along with Octavio Paz in 1982. In 1959 he founded the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana with Leopoldo Méndez, Gabriel Figueroa, Carlos Pellicer and Rafael Carrillo which produces books on Mexican art. He spent most of the 1960s with this project, putting him in relative obscurity until the 1970s when his work was widely exhibited again.

Alvarez Bravo’s first significant award for his photography was first prize for an image of two lovers on a boat at the Feria Regional Ganadera in Oaxaca. In 1931, he won first prize at a competition sponsored by the La Tolteca company with an image called La Tolteca. Diego Rivera was one of the judges. The rest of his awards did not come until the 1970s. These include the Elias Sourasky Arts Prize in 1974, Premio Nacional de Arte and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1975, nomination for the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1982, Hasselblad Award in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1984, Master of Photography Prize from the International Center of Photography in New York in 1987, Hugo Erfurth International Photography Award and the Agfa Gevaert Prize in Leverkusen, Germany in 1991, nomination as Creador Emérito by CONACULTA in 1993 and Gold Medal Award from the National Arts Club in New York along with the Leica Medal of Excellence and the Grand Cross of Merit Order in Portugal in 1995.

© Alvarez Bravo

Alvarez Bravo continued to photograph until his death. About a year before his death, when he could no longer travel, he photographed nudes. He stated that “It wasn’t the sort of work one can complain about.”

Significant collections of his work exist in Mexico and the United States. The Centro Fotográfico Álvarez Bravo is a non profit association founded in 1996 by Francisco Toledo in the city of Oaxaca. It contains six halls for temporary exhibitions of his photographs as well as works by others. It has a library specializing in photography and a permanent collection of 4,000 photographs by Álvarez Bravo and other notable photographers. The other is a collection of photographs that Alvarez Bravo began putting together himself in 1980 for the Fundación Cultural Televisa. This consists of 2,294 images, custody of which is now with the Casa Lamm Cultural Center in Mexico City which built a special vault for it. Since his death the photo archive at Casa Lamm continues to receive petitions for reproductions of the photographs from both Mexico and abroad, as well as provide assistance to researchers about the photographer and the times he lived in. Outside of Mexico, two significant collections are at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

Artistry
He was the pioneer of artistic photography in Mexico and the most important figure in Latin American photography for the 20th century. His work reached creative heights from the 1920s through the 1940s. In developing his craft, he recognized the difficulties of the photographic medium, such as the inability to capture the past and the difficulty of avoiding stereotyping.

His primary subjects were nudes, folk art and rituals, especially burials and decorations, shop windows, urban streets and everyday interactions. Although he did much of his work in Mexico City, Diego Rivera encouraged him to visit the towns and rural areas. Alvarez Bravo’s photographs almost never depict trappings of political power, instead preferring subjects related to everyday life. Most of his subjects are nameless. In addition to his main subjects, he also sought out certain textures, especially the surfaces of walls and floors. One example is “Hair on Tile” featuring a long lock of wavy hair on a tile floor with star and cross designs.

He used large cameras which produced more detail in the finished print. However, he was more concerned with the images he photographed than the technical quality of his prints. The compositions were generally excellent and the images poetic. He gave titles to his photographs in order to distinguish them. The titles of his photographs often are based on Mexican myth and culture.

Alvarez Bravo’s early work was influenced by European Cubism, French Surrealism and abstract art. Much of this came from two books, one of Picasso and another on Japanese prints with work by Hokusai that influenced his early landscape work. However, his career was being established during the post Mexican Revolution era, when there was a cultural and political push to redefine Mexican identity. In the 1930s, he abandoned European influences for more Mexican themes and styles, influenced by the art of the Mexican muralism movement. His photographs became more complicated with ancient symbols of blood, death and religion along with the paradoxes and ambiguities of Mexican culture. His experience with death as a child as the Mexican Revolution was unfolding played a role in his photographs from the explicit “Striking Worker, Assassinated” to the more subtle “Portrait of the Eternal.” However, while Alvarez Bravo was interested in Mexico’s cultural identity, he was not particularly political.

Alvarez Bravo’s trademark was the ability to capture hidden and surreal essences beneath the apparently ordinary images he was photographing. Alvarez Bravo was the first Mexican photographer to take a militantly anti-picturesque stand, to avoid stereotyping Mexico’s variety of cultures. To avoid the picturesque, he had to present images that went against what was expected from photographs about Mexico even if photographing something classically Mexican. One way Alvarez Bravo did this was to employ a sense of irony, to the addition of an element contrary to expectations and the main focus of the photograph. For example, while photographing an indigenous man in typical clothing (Señor de Papantla 1934), the man stares defiantly back into the camera. Another was to capture people doing ordinary activities avoiding romanticism and sentimentality. One example is a photo of a mother and a shoeshine boy (La mama del bolero y el bolero 1950s) eating lunch together. Another is a group of men eating at a lunch counter (Los agachadfos 1934).

Alvarez Bravo used Mexico City’s streets and squares to frame statements about the social and cultural realities of the city. He used his lens to present Mexico City not in terms of moral or heroic, but rather of social relationships and material clashes. These include class and gender roles. During the 1930s and 1940s, he discovered increasingly more complex ways to frame the contradictions of Mexico’s urban life into social statements. In his pictures, feminine identity has a complex symbolic range where sex overlaps with other social identities of everyday life.

This article uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.