For some weeks now I’ve been sharing the work of a rather talented and forthcoming photographer, Sid Vasandani. Sid, as part of StyleMyPic, has been creating tutorial videos with the intent of educating the viewers like you and me, on how to shoot in the fashion of some of the greats, and with basic gear at that. Hopefully, he will continue to do so and his most recent photographer to honor in the highest manner that is mimicry, is Richard Avedon.
If you’re in the fashion and beauty world that’s a name you’ll know all too well, but those of you who are not, it won’t necessarily resonate with you. You’d be forgiven, of course, as fashion to those with a casual interest in it, so often can come across as a bizarre phenomenon. However, highbrow fashion photographers hugely influence other fields, like wedding and portraiture, and Avedon’s name and body of work can clearly be touted as one of the most influential.
You could just watch the video and see how to recreate this famous shot of Avedon’s of Nastassja Kinski with a snake (which sold this year for $75k), but if you lend me your ear/eyes for a minute, I’ll share why you may want to.
You see, Avedon changed fashion photography, and his influence is seen almost everywhere in the commercial images that surround us from street shooters to Instagrammers to major campaigns. Before Avedon began shooting for Harper’s Bazaar, fashion models were beautiful stone statues of a Byzantine persuasion, almost clinical and lacking emotion. Avedon came along and broke the stone to reveal something more of flesh and fun, having a focus of his models on showing movement and being emotive. They would be dancing, running down a New York street in the rain, and laughing.
His fascination with unknown model China Machado, the first non-caucasian woman to grace Western fashion magazines opened the gates for the Imans and Tyras and everyone else. He was also less particular with clinical precision in his execution (though more than capable of it); this is something that takes time to appreciate for many photographers but makes sense since the technical skill is cheap relative to passion/art. He changed fashion and beauty subjects from things that were not just beautiful, but fascinating. Oh, and you know those striking portraits of weathered faces you see all over? He started that and shot anyone who mattered this way, along with unknowns from America’s heartland. So that’s Avedon in brief.
This shot of Nastassja Kinski is gorgeous, and here’s what Vasandani uses to recreate the shot:
You’ll see from the direction in the StyleMyPic video that Sid largely uses the StyleMyPic Photoshop Panel (which you can learn about on the site), but there’s also instruction on how to do it without. At the request of some of you, I will be reviewing this panel, so look out for it. Also, as is usual, Vasandani has included links to a free PSD source file you can practice on, which lets you get a good feel of the retouching without even shooting. Check out his site here and show some love.
If you are starting out or have entry level gear and want to really push its limits and see just how much you can actually do with a camera like the D5200, check out Photography 101, which will enable you to do just that, and speedily.