Inspiration: Richard Avedon



I don’t think there is a photographer working today that hasn’t  paid homage to Richard Avedon at some point in their careers.  He is on almost every list of the most influential photographers of the 20th century with a career spanning over sixty years.

You know his work, you’ve seen his images but perhaps didn’t know they were taken by him.  His photos captured the image of America that was style and fashion; helping to shape the way the world viewed us and the way we viewed  ourselves.   He brought a fresh perspective to portraiture by capturing sides of his subjects so rarely seen in the public eye; and he shot EVERYBODY.  His portrait collection includes almost every famous or influential figure of the 20th century.  His work in fashion was groundbreaking, often capturing movement and emotion rather than stiff poses.

I think the most fascinating bit of Avedon history is not how many famous people he photographed, rather it’s his beginnings that interests me the most because I think they were pivotal in helping him develop his style.  His first job as a photographer was in the Merchant Marines where he took identification photos.    I can’t help but think about how those days must have felt to him.  Every day he had people pose, motionless, until he snapped a photo on his old Rolleiflex Camera.  How many thousands of stiff boring photos did he take?   It’s no wonder he demanded movement and personality from his subjects!  Perhaps his style was born partly from the technical experience he gained and out of rebellion for taking the same photo every day for two years.

What jobs are we doing now that are, unbeknownst to us, preparing us for great things?  Something to think about….