Richard Avedon was a renowned photographer who was active for about sixty years. He focused particularly on fashion and portrait photography. In his photography, he explored many subjects such as things which he was afraid of and even went to different countries. In some cases, he went to several mental institutions to take his photos.
His First Model:
Avedon’s first model was his younger sister, Louise Avedon. He worked very closely with her. Avedon and his parents both stated multiple times that Louise was the most ‘photogenic’ in the family and her beauty was worth being photographed as much as possible. Unfortunately, Louise was admitted to a mental hospital and then died at the age of forty-two inside the hospital. Louise’s beauty and early death then haunted Avedon for all of his life. This, therefore, contributed to the tragic sense of life which is present in many of Richard Avedon’s work.
In some of Avedon’s photography, the portraits of his subjects would only include them with a white background and no additional props. The idea of this was because he wanted to isolate the subject. This idea therefore gave Avedon that by isolating the subject, it would make him focus on them. He would mainly focus on the face because, to Avedon, he believed that the face was the most important part of a subject as you could do many things with it to get a good quality photo which possess many questions and feelings for someone to experience.
Avedon was a very popular photographer when he was active. He photographed many models and subjects. Some of these included celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin. Others even included Andy Warhol. Today, most photographers would use celebrities as models for there work due to publicity. For Avedon, celebrities would contact him about having a photo shoot with him. This was strange for Avedon. He claimed at an exhibition opening that when Charlie Chaplin called him about a photo shoot, Avedon did not believe him at first and hung up the phone. Then the second time around, Avedon was shocked that the real Charlie Chaplin had called him about a photo shoot.
When Avedon photographed the American West, he received quite a lot of bad publicity from people who actually lived in the West, due to the fact that he had exposed the fake identity of the West and he did this by making the inhabitants of the West pose and act in the ways in which they would not be like in the actual way that they live. Although the photography is cleverly thought out and is good in capturing emotion, it shows how it is staged and doesn’t show the true identity of the ‘then’ American West.