Masters of Photography Irving Penn
In this month’s Masters of Photography we will be looking at American fashion photographer Irving Penn. Penn passed away in 2009 at the age of 92, leaving behind him a legacy of simple, crisp and highly effective images.
Penn’s strength was in his simplicity. A pioneer of the basic grey or white backdrop, his photographs focused so clearly on their subjects that you felt as if you knew everything about them from just the one shot. He soon began to expand his set further with the use of angled backdrops and corners, capturing wonderful images of Georgia O’Keefe, Igor Stravinsky and even Pablo Picasso.
Aside from fashion photography and portraits, Penn very skilfully leant his post modern styling to creatively arranged still life images of food, bones, bottles and other found objects as well as the intense, amazing scenes captured from his travel essays.
Irving Penn’s style comprised an assured combination of glorious creativity and a high level of organisation. His unwavering attention to detail is present in all of his images from his still life arrangements, to the inspired fashion photography that helped to define the post-World War II image of feminine chic and glamour
“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world. …Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.” —Irving Penn, 1975.
Aspiring photographers would do well to study the work of Irving Penn, as his simplistic, effective, photographic stamp will remain present in the world of photography for many years to come. He has definitely been an influence on us here at Photoion and we hope that he will do the same for you too.
If you would like to learn how to create stunning images from portraits and fashion photography, to lan