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Richard Avedon

21 Feb 2017Personal Essays

“Photography and painting are the same. Each renders imagination in tangible form. The difference is that painters can work completely from imagination, although most of us work from life as a starting point. Both can take lifetimes to master the tools to render imaginations exactly as we intend.” (What is Photography?)

Photography is a unique way to copy one’s beauty, some memorable and happy moments and some many tragic incidents. Photography is a hard work. People think that only by pressing the flash button of a day light camera, they can easily and beautifully capture the most interesting moments. But when the results of those pictures come, they look ugly and the photographer is blamed for his non-professionalism. According to researchers and websites photography is the most hard and expensive course in the whole world. To teach and to learn photography is not a work of just interest but photography requires many things along interest such as concentration, interest and mind power such as handy techniques to handle a camera and capture beautiful scenes. Nowadays fashion photography is a demanded interest and it can be a way to earn handsome amount of money. Fashion photographers are in high demand nowadays in markets because today the world has moved so far that even to promote designs of a newly open boutique or a market a separate fashion show is necessary. History has witnessed a human creature that was a great fashion photographer. The name of this famous fashion photographer was Richard Avedon.

“I have worked out of a series of numbers. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these numbers force me to the “yes.” I have a white background. I have the person I am interested in and the thing that happens between us. (Richard Avedon: Comments)

Richard Avedon was born on May 1923 and died on October 1, 2004. Avedon was a fine photographer who started his career with photography and later moved on to the field on fine arts. Besides that he wrote many books regarding photography and fine arts. Avedon belonged to a Jewish-Russian family and was born in the New York City. He started his career from the Columbia University and later on he joined Merchant Marines as a photographer in the year 1942. He always photographed pictures by a Rollieflex camera gifted to him by his father. After two years in photography, in 1944 Alexey Brodovitch, who was the art director of the Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, appointed him.

Harper’s Bazaar was a fashion magazine. After working in Harper’s Bazaar he opened a separate studio of himself and later on he started selling his photographs to the magazines named Vogue and Life. Later on he was appointed as a chief photographer in the fashion magazine named Harper’s Bazaar. But soon he left the job of Harper’s Bazaar as he appointed by Vogue magazine to work under the capacity of a staff photographer. Along with his continuing fashion photography work, he also captured the scenes of patients residing in mental hospitals, drastic scenes of Vietnam War and the falling of the wall of Berlin. However Richard was a good photographer who carried or captured pictures of models with smiling faces, emotional faces and sometimes he also took and directed models according to the demand of the subject. During this period, Richard introduced a set of two interesting and attractive or beautiful portraits known as the Beatles. These were highly loved and appreciated by people. Richard when gained popularity from his photographic career he later made plans to switch over to fine arts. Avedon also loved to draw people growing in their teens and workers working in mines and in factories dealing with many tired faces and many clothes of those people who were wet in oil. He loved to put the shadow of his paintings towards the neglected people of the society.

For this purpose many people helped him and soon in 1992 he was appointed as a first staff photographer in the New Yorker. After much of his success in 1993 he gained the International Center of Photography Master of Photography Award in 1993, and again in 1994 he won the Prix Nadar award for his photographic book Evidence and lastly he received the award ofRoyal Photographic Society 150th Anniversary Medal in 2003. As being a photographer none could succeed in equaling him even today because he was simply the best photographer of the century who is lost now but the world will ever remember him.

Later on after his success in his career Richard married a very famous model named Dorcas Nowell who was later named as Doe Avedon in the fashion world. They got married in the year 1944 and soon after five years nearly in 1951 they got divorced and Richard married another woman. The name of that lady was Evylen Franklin. He also got separated with Franklin but they had one son named John. Avedon also had a nephew who was a martial arts super star whose name was Loren Avedon.

In 1957, Hollywood presented a fictional movie on the account of his early career. The movie starred Fred Astaire as a fashion photographer named “Dick Avery”. For this purpose and the musical fictional production, Avedon supplied the producers with the image of Audrey Hepburn’s face only in which her best features which were he eyes, her eyebrows and her mouth are visible. In the late 1950’s and 60’s Avedon said about the unique and best portrait and about Hepburn that “Hepburn has achieved in herself. No one can even thin of equaling her. She is an ultimate portrait and she is what she is in herself and no one can interpret her. She is a god-gifted creature who is the beauty of every camera.”

“And 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. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible.” (Richard Avedon: Comments)

Some of the famous, most loved, adorable and most appreciative photographs of the career of Richard Avedon are: In 1955 he captured a model through his camera named Dovima with Elephants. Later on in 1957 he took the photo of a famous actress Marilyn Monroe. Following the fame of those lovely pictures he was also offered and requested to photograph the President of the United States in 1964. He photographed the US president known as Dwight David Eisenhower. Then in 1967 he painted a beautiful set of two beautiful portraits known as the Beatles. In 1973 he further photographed Sly Stones, which was the cover of Fresh Album and due to the picture and its beauty it was named as Sly Stone. Lastly in 1981 he painted his last famous picture, which was Nastassja Kinski and Serpent.

Besides his work and accomplishments, people have many reviews about him. One of them is “Richard Avedon is a man with many masks. "Richard Avedon is a man with many masks: the American creator of dashing commercial images; the magician behind the sleekest magazine pages of the day...the ruthless exposer of social and political flummery; the maverick storyteller who made titans of America's underclass and mixed them in among his pantheon of actors, writers, poets, politicians and artists." (Irving, n.p.)

Besides his interest in painting and fine arts, he also wrote many books. Some of them are stated below. His first book named Observations was compiled in 1959 and his partner in this book was Truman Capote. This book contains portraits of famous people of the twentieth century. His second book was Nothing Personal, which was written in collaboration with James Baldwin and the third one is a famous fantasy storybook named Alice in Wonderland.

Doon Arbus helped him writing this book. In 1976 he writes another book named Portraits whose editions include those portraits book of 1947, 1977 and 1978. His next book was In the American West, written in 1985 and after that he told his life story and his whole struggling period through pictures and captions along those pictures in a book named An Autobiography written in 1993. Those pictures contain photos of many famous celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Judy Garland and Avedon’s parents. In 1994 he wrote another book named Evidence which contains more than 600 images sketched and camera captured by Avedon. Those pictures contain those of fashion photgraphy, journalistic images, sketches, real or natural images, images which are unseen by most of the people, that part of the society which has been neglected and under estimated throuugh many inhuman acts. However the book contains many pictures, but it polishes Avedon’s essays and his visual basics more than the pcitures or images.

In 1999, he wrote a book named The Sixties, in which his co-author was Doon Arbus. The book contains images of many famous figures. In 2001, hid book named Made in France was launched which forwarded the shadow on all those images belonging to the early 50’s. His next book is also similar like that as its name suggests Richard Avedon’s Portraits, 2002. This book contains all those portraits of 50’s and 60’s. His last book which was compiled by Anne Hollander after his death in 2005 was named Woman in the Mirror.

Richard Avedon was a man of art. He accomplished himself in every field he chose for himself. He expertise in the fields of photography and fine arts. Later on he compiled books on and of his portraits. This great man counted his last breath on October 1st, 2004. He died through brain hemorrhage in Texas. The world would never forget his accomplishments and his work, his dedication and his spirit for art. Even now, he is a great inspiration for beginners in the fields of art and photography as he was the one of the ten famous photographs of the world.

“Photography has always reminded me of the second child…trying to prove it. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art…that it was considered a craft… has trapped almost every serious photographer”. (Richard Avedon quotes)

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