Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The art of not pushing the button

1974, Paris, "Shoe and the Eiffel Tower

I haven't posted on other photographers in awhile so here we go:

Frank Horvat, Italian fashion photographer and photojournalist, believed in control. It is important for a "real" photographer to not just snap away and hope that a good photo will come out of the massive heap of average or poor ones. Horvat believed in waiting for the right shot; taking the time and focus to make a perfect frame. Some of this theory probably came from his meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson who preached his coined-term "the decisive moment." Frank Horvat was a contemporary of Cartier-Bresson's who seemed to live for that moment. To me, his perfect pictures have the beautiful quality of fine paintings. The lighting, pose, color, contrast, and overall composition show wonderful control similar to the effect of a well-planned painting.

Here are a few of his photos from three different publications: British Vogue, L'Officiel, and some of his beautiful Vraies semblances portrait series:

British Vogue

In the 50's there was only one fashion magazine with editions in different countries, Vogue. British Vogue was the first to give Horvat the freedom to use his own style in taking photos. The only drawback to working in Britain, says Horvat, was the weather. He therefore decided to bring the models inside the studio instead of out on the streets. Horvat requested many strange props such as babies and horses in order to add something new against the plain grey background. The picture to the right was taken in 1959 in London and shows model Judy Dent with a baby. Dent is wearing a british high fashion evening dress.

1959, London, British ready-to-wear with horses / 1961, London, model Simone D'aillencourt in british high fashion, with designer Hardy Amies


L'Officiel is an old French monthly with "a small budget and modest ambitions," as Horvat said. This magazine has been the last fashion magazine he has worked for.

The picture to the right was taken in Paris, 1988. The model, Carol, is in a French high fashion cocktail dress.

1989, Paris, French high fashion evening dress / 1986, Paris, African fashion

Vraies semblances

The meaning of the title is "both true semblances and verisimilitudes." The main theme here is women and the emotions they convey. Each photo took weeks of preparation and hours of shooting. These portraits are all important women in the life of Horvat. A second theme to this set is history which can be seen in the style of the photos and the dress and posture of the subjects. He often used famous paintings as a reference for this series of photos. The third theme is that of portrait photography in and of itself - the intimacy involved in capturing a person's spirit forever in a single frame.

The photo to the right is simply titled "Anne."

Isolda / Sarah

For more information on Horvat as well as an online portfolio please look to my links section on the right side of this page.


Anonymous said...

The best version of Horvat's "Shoe and Eiffel Tower" is the one where he took the photo exactly at the moment whe a man had reached the top of the stairs in the midground, and appeard perfectly framed under the arch of the shoe on the left side of the print. Talk about a "Bresson moment", it's the ultimate. If you haven't seen it, find it. I have a signed and numbered edition of this exact print hanging on my wall at home.

Fangus said...

Do you have any other photos of Judy Dent at all?