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Avedon At Work by Laura Wilson

Obregon Obregon

Is from: Southold, US
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Thu 06-May-21 01:30 PM | edited Sun 16-May-21 02:12 PM by Obregon
Avedon At Work In The American West by Laura Wilson.

Admirers of one of the great books of photography, Richard Avedon's "In the American West" (https://www.nikonians.org/forum/topic/195-2368-2368/in-the-american-west-by-richard-avedon}, may want to know more about that extraordinary book and the exhibit for which the pictures were created. Laura Wilson accompanied Avedon on his several expeditions to capture the portraits and wrote most of the text for the original book, and now amplifies how the images were captured. This book was published eighteen years after "In the American West" and while the photographs in the original book speak for themselves, the process by which they were made will still interest many.

Wilson describes her work with Avedon and his assistants both generally, and then in more detail by describing what went on in several of the shoots. Included are Wilson's pictures on location, as well as smaller versions of the relevant portraits.

Some critics attacked Avedon as denigrating his subjects. This book explains the photographer's clear vision of what he wanted, and that he respected and admired the subjects. He even rejected photographs he had taken of rich people. He said the photographs are of "people without a voice."

Because Avedon was a fashion photographer and made portraits of the rich and famous, it is easy to think of him as the photographer in the movie "Funny Face" which is said to be loosely based on his life. This book makes it clear that he was a serious and hard-working artist.

One story particularly caught my attention. Although Avedon made 752 portraits, he only selected 123 for the final exhibit and book. Avedon sent a copy of the book to each of the subjects that appeared in it. This included an image of a person described as a "drifter". He received a response from the subject's sister. He had been stabbed to death about a year after the portrait was taken. His mother had been upset "because her son was not totally a drifter."

Not everyone will care how a great photographer made these portraits. On the other hand, for those interested in how Avedon translated his vision into amazing and moving photographs, this book will be rewarding.

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