Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon is a Fashion photographer, a photojournalist, and a portrait photographer. Although he is widely known for all three types of photography, it is his work with portraits that really made him a success. Portrait photography is classically is photo of one individual either their entire body or simply their face. The most important part of a portrait is the expression on the subjects face. The expression they are captured in the photograph is supposed to be an accurate depiction of who the subject really is. Avedon’s portrait photography is famous world round. His way of capturing his subject’s expression and a real feeling of whom the subject is.  

Richard Avedon uses a unique style of portrait photography. He has a way of making each one of his portraits intimate and real. With the exception of a handful of photographs, most of Avedon’s portraits are done in black and white. One of the most interesting aspects of Avedon’s work is that no one portrait looks anything like another. The portraits aren’t all conventional straight forward portraits and that is one of the most appealing aspects of his work. Some of his portraits are taken in motion, others what looks like in the middle of conversation; some are also taken of only certain body parts. The beauty of Avedon’s portraits is the intensity of the photographs. Most are taken on a plain background, making the subject the only focal point of the photo, their expressions taking you right inside the photo. Avedon makes every portrait extremely detailed, you can see every hair, every wrinkle, and every pore which makes the photos as close to real life as possible. In the photos in which there is no face, and instead a body part such as a hand or a foot is present, it is that body part that best represents the individual. For example the portrait of Rudolf Nureyev “en pointe” shows only his foot, but it is that foot that really gives a sense of who he is, his personality comes out in that photo without even showing the expression on his face. Avedon’s talent has a way of exposing his subjects in a personal light, although not always in the conventional portrait.

For most of his portrait work Richard Avedon is most famous for his work with celebrities, artists, and politicians. Photographing subjects as famous as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Many celebrities sought out Avedon in the hopes of getting a real intimate depiction of who they really were. Avedon’s collection of portraits consists of artists, musicians, dancers, actors, writers, and politicians. His portraits depict subjects who most people imagine they could never know, in ways that feel extremely personal.

Richard Avedon has had an immense impact on the world of photography. His method of capturing his subjects has influenced photographers in every field. Making the subjects of his photos vulnerable and real, has greatly changed the way photographs will forever be taken.

This Photograph of artist Cleve Grey has such an intense emotion. The expression on the subjects face gives you the feeling that this man is in extreme pain. Avedon captured that look of hopelessness in his eyes, and although there is no information about the his story given, as a viewer you can image all of the feelings this man must have, just by looking at his face.

This photograph of singer Janis Joplin gives a very intimate feeling. When looking at the portrait you get the feeling she is in the middle of telling a story, and in a way she`s talking to you. The natural way she is holding herself makes it feel as if you are along inside the photo with her.

One of Avedon`s more conventional portraits, this photo gives you a direct look at the subject, no frills, no excitement, just the subject.

One of Avedon’s most interesting portraits in my opinion is that of dance teacher Killer Joe Piro. The subject is not even in focus, you can’t get a defined expression off his face, and the only thing you see is an enormous smile. Avedon found a way of making an out of focus subject into a real portrait of who he is. Movement is clear in this photo, and Avedon takes full advantage of just that.

This particular portrait is not at all traditional. On the left we see there is a subject cut out of view, and the man inside the photo (Jean Genet) is not even looking in the direction of the camera. What is different about this photo is that the subjects seems to be in the middle of something, but the expression caught on his face in that particular moment gives us an idea of what is on his mind.

More along the lines of a classic portrait, this picture of Marilyn Monroe is an example of one of Avedon’s most famous works. The plain background brings the subject straight to attention, although her hair makeup and dress are all there to attract attention, there is a sort of urgency in her expression that pulls you in. The sad look in her eyes is one not always seen on the famous actress, making the photograph extremely intimate and beautiful.

One of only a handful of colour photographs taken by Richard Avedon, this portrait of Cate Blanchett is more along the lines of a classic portrait. The subject is face on in the photo, but instead of a smile the expression on her face is blank, although there might be nothing on her mind. The beauty in this photograph is the contrast between the very bright colors, the elaborate costume and that blank stare.

Unlike any other portrait I have ever seen this particular photograph of Marlon Brando gives a new meaning to intimate. Looking at the photograph you get the feeling you are intruding in a way, that you are looking at something private, and that is exactly what I believe Avedon was attempting to do with this photo. He is taking you past the smiles and camera flashes into the personal lives and emotions of his subjects.

This portrait is individual in a way that cannot be described. The way Avedon managed to capture his subject’s entire way of life into one single photograph is uplifting. The second you look at the picture you can feel the pain and the triumph that goes along with the dancer in this photo, and all without even showing his face.

In this particular photograph the entire focus of the portrait is on the subjects face. Her hair is simple, and she is wearing no visible clothes or makeup, everything about the photo is natural. With nothing to distract you away from the subjects face you really get a feel for the expression, the almost piercing stare.

Richard Avedon has had an immense impact on the world of photography. His method of capturing his subjects has influenced photographers in every field. Making the subjects of his photos vulnerable and real, has greatly changed the way photographs will forever be taken.