Whenever people ask me who my biggest photographic inspiration is, I've never hesitated with my answer. Richard Avedon is such a massive influence on what I do. I dream of shooting the types of people he shot, for the people he got to shoot them for!
Avedon was born in New York in 1923 and by his mid twenties was shooting for Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, and Life. He was a true pioneer in fashion photography, and was one of the first to break from the norm of static, lifeless models. Instead he would capture, movement and emotion in his images, giving them life and stories.
Instead of trying to photograph the image of a subject, Avedon tried to capture the essence of who they were, and what they were feeling at the time in order to tell a story. It's the story that captivates the viewer and makes his images stand head and shoulders above all others.
Avedon photographed many of the most iconic people of the 20th century, and more often than not, it's his images that are the most well known. His images are typically minimalist black and white portraits on a white background shot with his large format camera. Avedon's skill as a photographer was more than his ability to take a good photograph. His ability to study people and the way they react to certain things enabled him to evoke emotions and expressions he was looking for in his images, often the ones that others weren't able to get!
One of Avedon's most famous images was of Nastassja Kinski in 1981 posing with a snake. This is an image that has been replicated by people countless times. You can see an excerpt from the Richard Avedon documentary, "Darkness & Light" where they talk about the shoot here. As mentioned in the clip, Avedon put this image on a poster, and promptly sold 2 million copies. There aren't many people photographing today that could do the same, such is the pull of Avedon's work.
If you haven't looked up Avedon's work, I seriously recommend you do. If you have, I'd love to see which of his images stand out for you. Here are some of my favourites...