War Photographers Do Fashion

New York Look is an adjunct bi-yearly magazine from the people who bring us the (wonderful) New York magazine. They have been doing something pretty unique and cool, hiring one photographer to shoot all of the work for each issue. It started with Paolo Pellegrin in Spring 2008 and followed with Christopher Anderson in Fall 2008. The latest issue seems to be out now, and features a portfolio by Benjamin Lowy: Spring 2009.

I’ve been fascinated by this idea of taking photographers from one ‘genre’ and dropping them in to a different world since I first saw the New York Fashion Week pictures from Paolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli from 2005 (links are to their fashion work). I actually remember hearing from a New York Magazine photo editor who said they, of course, do this very deliberately .. to get a new take on things. (Probably wouldn’t work sending a fashion-only guy to Kabul, though). These are still some of my favorite pictures by either of these photographers. I’ve always described it as something like, “you take a photographer who is used to making beautiful and challenging pictures of terrible things, and then you throw them into a situation where beautiful things are all around, you’re going to get some incredibly pretty pictures”. I think the editors at New York magazine got this entirely (hell, they introduced it to me..) and I’m very excited to see these portfolios in Look.

These two pictures from Lowy aren’t exactly representative of whole of his work for Look (go have a look to see what I mean), but they’re my favorite, and the most different from the work I had seen before. One of my complaints about all of this is.. more than most projects, I see so much overlap in the vision and feel of these three photographers covering these same fashion shows. In 2005, Pellegrin and Majoli had very similar looking work (and used very strange but nearly identical techniques of lighting). And Anderson’s (and, now, Lowy’s to a lesser extent) seem to draw direct influence from the pictures that had come from their colleagues before them. An interesting debate.. maybe they all see alike, but maybe there is now a defined style of how you shoot these things. I don’t know, I’ve never shot fashion shows..

Also, here is a link to Alec Soth on the Magnum Blog asking “Should Magnum do fashion?. It generated over a hundred responses.. and probably no answers.

And my apologies, this was a bit of a melodramatic and misleading title… I know these guys do much more than ‘war’.. in fact their most interesting and important stuff isn’t from war.

One Response to “War Photographers Do Fashion”

  1. M. Scott Brauer

    Definitely agree on how much the 3 Looks look the same. I still love all the work.

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