MPN UK – PHOTOGRAPHERS FOCUS – HORST P HORST
When Jay the Founder of MPN asked if I would be interested in writing a regualr piece introducing photographers and there works to members of the group in a hope to inspire, educate and provide quality content; I knew instantly the first photographer I would choose. Horst P Horst a German-born fashion photographer, and one of the founding fathers of fashion photographers as we know it.He has been an inspiration to me and my work for several years and as you see the work I am certain you will see why.It is my hope that you enjoy my writing and the content I put forward. In this first piece, I do not intend on getting overly technical, naming lighting patterns used or going too in-depth on how or why the composition works. That said if this is something you would like me to write about in future posts, I would love to know in the comments below or leave me a comment in the Facebook group where the link to this was posted. So without further ado let me introduce; Horst P Horst…
Horst P Horst Died November 18th 1999 at the age of 93. His photographic career spanning 6 decades.In that time, he has had 14 books of his works published, numerous exhibitions around the world and created photographs for many magazines including several Vogue covers; including this cover from July 1939.
This photograph features the model Muriel Maxwell. This image is one of my personal favourites from Horst’s extensive collection.I have even taken my own version in homage to this wondrous image. The image portrays a sense of Hollywood glamour, that has since been lost and forgotten, being overshadowed such celebrities as the Beckham’s, Kardashian’s and the Trumps.And for me the true beauty of this image is in its simplicity, there no fancy props, flamboyant dresses, just simple styling, considered and deliberate posing and classic lighting, all culminating in an image that is timeless.
Many of you reading this may not recognise the previous image, but one image that you are likely to remember is this;
The Mainbocher Corset. Photographed in 1939 in the Paris Vogue studio, the night before fleeing France to go to America, because of the Nazi threat close to the French borders. This image inspired Madonna to recreate it in her 1990 music video for Vogue, which immortalised it into pop culture.
The above image features a fresh-faced Coco Channel, photographed in 1937. The two formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. Looking at the three images featured, it is clearly evident, that there is a sense of admiration, respect and affection for these women, there is little objectification or sexual innuendo that is so popular in today’s photography; both amateur and professional. Horst captures these women as the strong, purposeful and elegant women that they are. Every aspect of Horst work is thought out and pre-planned, he knew exactly where the wanted every element of his photograph, from lighting, to model, to prop. Something I wish I was capable of achieving myself. And should also talk specifically about his ability to light subjects, Both the image of Coco Channel and the Mainbocher corset, feature a sculptural and theatrical quality. This ability can also be seen throughout his entire catalogue. What really makes a photographer stand out, is the ability to see and shape the light to their will. Would Horst have been a ‘Gear-whore’ obsessing over that latest 72MP full-frame sensor with 666 focusing points? I doubt it. It’s not the cameras that we use nor even the lenses, yes they help… But it’s what we see that others don’t and how capable we are at expressing that in our chosen art form. I sincerely hope that you have found some inspiration in the images above and in an ideal world so of my words. Below I will include some more of my favourite images from the late and great Horst P Horst. Thank you for taking the time to read, I hope to see you again soon. Fez x