Guy and Helmut
As a follow up to the recent post on the inventors of fashion photography (here), I thought it would be best to give proper props to the two guys I view as the inventors of modern fashion photography as we know it, Guy Bourdin (pronounced Gee) and Helmut Newton.
(You may ask, but what about Avedon and Penn, especially given my proclivity of admiration for their works? My response would be that I consider them more the fathers of modern portraiture, not fashion; Avedon is a portrait photographer first and foremost…certainly up for discussion though.)
If you know fashion, then I don’t need to belabor the influence these guys had and have on it. I will say that I’ve always been a fan of Newton’s aesthetic. His works from day one appealed to my personal taste and a interest in black and white; both things I think would be obvious if you looked at my portfolio. He was a phenomenal photographer and opened up a lot of doors. But Bourdin, well, Bourdin is often referred to in casual conversation as a genius, and though I’m hesitant to use that term lightly, I wouldn’t disagree in this case. I prefer Newtons look, sure, but I think Bourdin did more as an artist in the purest sense of the word. His work is incredibly refined, has an incredible dedication to a vision, and seems like something he HAD to do. Maybe, I’d sum it up like this: I imagine Newton probably had fun with his work, and probably could have had fun doing a lot of other things in life; while, Bourdin, I imagine, on some levels, was haunted by his work, but he was meant to do it – there was no other route for him.
But this is all speculation, imagined scenarios and personalities; really, I’ve no idea about either of them beyond what I gather from reviewing the photographs and from the little I’ve read about them.
photo: © Guy Bourdin
photo: © Helmut Newton