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Masters of photography: Irving Penn (no date) Available at: http://www.masters-of-photography.com/P/penn/penn_articles2.html (Accessed: 20 July 2016).
(Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“Irving Penn seemed to consider each photograph to be like a portrait which interpreted freely the conventions of pictorial photography – to such an extent that he made little distinction between work in the studio and the more experimental craft of darkroom and printing techniques.”
(Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“Stage props are usually absent from his photographs. They are posed against a plain paper backdrop and translate his perception of a unique moment.”
(Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“In his work, a simple photograph constitutes a personal vision, in which the outline, the gradation of tones, and contrasts, become the trademark of a way of looking which gives form to the world.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

 

Masters of photography: Irving Penn (no date) Available at: http://www.masters-of-photography.com/P/penn/penn_articles3.html (Accessed: 20 July 2016b).
(Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“An extraordinary portrait is by definition rare. The successful professional will, however, produce with regularity a picture that looks good, that has some variety of quality or style, and that will satisfy or delight the client and perhaps even the sitter, who in the world of high fees are almost never the same person.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“If both principals are alert, and willing to accept the risk of humiliating failure, and if they are lucky, the collaboration may produce a picture that seems to touch the subject’s soul. Such high success may be hoped for, but the odds of achieving it are statistically not good. Not even Holbein or Velazquez always achieved it.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“There is a suggestion of shabbiness about this studio. The floor bears the scars of earlier sittings, and the somber gray carpet, artfully spread over coffee tables and soft drink cases, is raveled at the edges.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“Penn has never changed his first idea of portraiture; he has merely simplified what at first seemed almost irreducibly simple, so that by the late fifties even the anonymous studio disappeared, and there remained no environment at all, only a wordless conversation between the photographer and the sitter.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“The studio presents itself as the functional workroom of an honest craftsman who is clearly unaware of the requirements of high elegance.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“He did not know which sideboard or candelabra or period wallpaper to use with which dress, and therefore discovered by necessity the beauties of the seamless paper background.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“In many of Penn’s early portraits the presence of the studio is insistent; we are allowed to see the electrical cables, or the edges of the backdrop, and feel the impersonal, conventional north light (real or contrived) falling on these subjects as it had on a thousand others before them.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“But Penn’s 1950 pictures provide no references to plot or circumstance, no suggestions of old chateaux, or perfect picnics, or delicious flirtations in Edwardian drawing rooms, or footlights, or avant Freudian dream worlds.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“It was (and is) his idea that the portraitist must seem a servant to the sitter (even if sometimes a stern and demanding one), one whose function it is to attend and encourage the sitter’s self revelation. Whether the portraitist should actually be what he seems is a more complex question.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“The calm spareness of vision and manner in his pictures was breathtaking.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“They are not stories, but simply pictures. Within the boundaries of a classically simple photographic vocabulary, they effect a translation, into pictorial terms, of the idea and the spirit of another artist’s work – the couturier’s work.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

“The economy and concentration of Penn’s fashion pictures echoed his work in portraiture. In contrast to the prevalent magazine style of the years around 1950, his portraits are free of reference to the sitter’s work or habitual environment. Writers are not photographed at their work tables, or even walking on the beach, thinking, but in a photographer’s studio, in an improvised space made to appear as anonymous, as value free, as a photographer’s studio.” (Masters of photography: Irving Penn, no date)

Classic – worlds in a small room (2013) Available at: https://imageonpaper.com/2013/07/21/review-worlds-in-a-small-room/ (Accessed: 20 July 2016).
(Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“He finally perfected a portable outdoor natural light studio with a custom built tent. This structure was 11 feet high and had a 10 x 18 foot floor. He augmented the set-up with an 8 x 12 reflective screen. Made of aluminum poles and nylon it was reasonably portable, could be set up quickly by a team of assistants, and could fit on the top of a jeep.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“Penn paid off the owner and rented the studio for three days.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“In his early trips Penn would locate daylight studios such as those he found in Paris, New York, and London for his series “Small Trades.” During a 1964 trip to Spain, while working with a band of Gypsies, he tried to improvise such a studio in a barn:” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“These remarkable strangers would come to me and place themselves in front of my camera, and in this clear north sky light I would make records of their physical presence. The pictures would survive us both and at least to that extent something of their already dissolving cultures would be preserved forever.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“But there are other things that take place within a studio that are subtle, and they have everything to do with the relationship between photographer and subject.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“He used the tent to make what are perhaps his most famous photographs, the Makehuku men from the village of Mandow, known generally as the mud men of Asaro, New Guinea.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“In this makeshift studio, strange to both of us, I noticed for the first time in my experience with gypsies that I was treated by them as a person somewhat like themselves.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“But in this limbo there was for us both the possibility of contact that was a revelation to me and often, I could tell, a moving experience for the subjects themselves, who without words—by only their stance and their concentration—were able to say much that spanned the gulf between our different worlds.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“It was not their home, as I had brought this alien enclosure into their lives; it was not my home, as I had obviously come from elsewhere, from far away.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“The studio became, for each of us, a sort of neutral area.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“What you can exclude, all the distractions of walls, trees, shadows, and clutter; and what you can introduce; controlled lighting, a sense of stability and intimacy.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“Walking the streets in the centre of town he encountered a photographer’s studio with sheet glass for a roof and open on the north side, a daylight studio.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“The results are a powerful, evocative engagement with an unfamiliar culture.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“The advantages of a studio are isolation and control.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

“In an important reversal, Penn photographed the studio’s clientele, but rather than take money from the subjects, he paid them to let him take their photographs.” (Classic – worlds in a small room, 2013)

weise, martin (2009) Deutsche bank – ArtMag – 53 – news – Clare Strand at Folkwang museum. Available at: http://db-artmag.com/en/53/news/clare-strand-at-folkwang-museum/ (Accessed: 20 July 2016).
(weise, 2009)

“Each work evokes a different set of associations that spark a variety of different stories in the imagination.” (weise, 2009)

“Portraits are combined with mysterious night views, works that also offer evidence of the artist’s preference for the uncertain and the ambiguity of photographic images.” (weise, 2009)

“She portrays people from today in front of a painted backdrop reminiscent of 19th-century photography.” (weise, 2009)

Critical Analysis

From the research I am interested in the statement “The advantages of a studio are isolation and control.”, looking at the work of Irving Penn and Clare Strand I want to create portrait of people in the isolation of a studio, segregating the person from the props and background that show who they are.

Unlike the previous exercise which relied on the background to describe the character of the person in this exercise I will attempt to create pictures of the sitters where the viewer can draw their own conclusions based on the face and the portrait alone.

I will use the same backdrop and the same lighting setup for each one so that the conditions are the same and hopefully add nothing to the reading of the person in the image.