Fine art Wedding Photography inspired by peter lindbergh
The Beauty of Honest Black & White Photography
Peter Lindbergh died 3rd September 2019. He is credited with the birth of the Supermodel, his famous Vogue photograph of Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Vogue U.S.A. Santa Monica, California, 1988 is often credit as the defining moment in modern fashion photography. This also happened to coincide with Anna Wintour becoming Vogue’s new Editor.
But what made Peter Lindbergh’s photographs so revolutionary? Well, for one he refused to allow his subjects’ skin to be retouched in post (even up to his last Vogue Cover in September 2019!!). His images were often simple in their precision, the women he photographed were independent, powerful, individuals in their own right. Their strength come through the image. There is minimal artifice, minimal wardrobe (Peter famously says how he hates clothes), and little to no hair and make-up. As a result, his images become timeless in a similar way to Greek Goddesses immortalised in marble. This is a particularly interesting example: those pristine marble Goddesses that we see would have been covered in garish technicolour paint at the time of their creation – and yet we idolise them now because of their purity. Peter did something similar, he stripped away and revealed the beauty always there. Put simply, he allowed his female subjects to be women. Hair doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact some of his greatest images have hair falling over a face; lines on faces are visible and not made to look like porcelain; and he worked almost exclusively in Black & White.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Peter Lindbergh’s career are his portraits. Simple, dramatic, black and white images that, in Lindbergh’s own words, should “free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection”. This resonates with me. At wedding fayres I’m routinely asked if I can Photoshop people to make them look more perfect. I’m forever torn on how to respond to such questions. The simple answer is no, like Lindbergh I do not do skin retouching in Photoshop. On a practical level it simply isn’t feasible to retouch people’s skin on over 400 images.
But on an ethical level I don’t want to either. Beauty is more than the symmetrical features of your face, more than the perfectly straight teeth, more than the curve of your nose. Beauty comes from the look in your eyes, the smile on your face, the sheer joy that you feel at having found the person you love and who loves you.
A portrait that captures an honest and pure emotion will always bring a smile to the viewer. There will be a connection drawing the viewer in. No matter your age, ethnicity, or sex, there is always beauty to be found in being who you are.
So no, there is no skin retouching on my wedding photos because, in all honesty, we don’t need it.
Emotion runs throughout Peter Lindbergh’s work. It’s no different for wedding photography. You just have to be ready to capture it. It’s the little things, the smile, the eye contact, the tear down the cheek. Weddings are full of big ritualistic moments, but they are also quiet, tender occasions that really cut to the heart of togetherness.
Peter’s group shots are iconic. The interaction between the models and the vulnerability they share are what elevates Peter’s work to art. He’s looking for the individual to give something of themselves to the camera; to be vulnerable in order to show their strength. At a wedding these images can convey the nature of the couple’s relationship, the interaction between them, and the strength of their partnership. And that is beautiful to behold, but not easy to capture. It takes time and trust. It cannot be rushed.
Little moments of quiet through the day are important for the couple. They will cherish a 10 minute walk together, probably the first time they’ve been alone together in the day (apart from the unobtrusive photographer following them, of course). Let them be together and just be ready to capture how they naturally are together. Allow them to show you who they are, don’t try and impose on them who you want them to be.
The Environmental Portrait
Some of Peter’s most striking images are his extreme close up portraits. But another aspect of his work are environmental portraits, ones that give wider context. Often these can be on the streets of Paris and New York or on a studio set that includes the props within the image (again pulling back the curtain of artifice). Weddings can be in some of the most amazing locations, both indoors and out. It’s an important part of the story to include the places where these moments happen.
Out of Focus
Out of focus images are a defining aspect of Peter Lindbergh’s photos. There is perfection within the imperfections. Often the soft focus lends to an impressionistic aspect that conveys emotion in a far deeper way than a pin sharp image. There is a mystery to the photograph that invites the viewer in, to ask questions, to wonder what is going on or how are they feeling. Often pin sharp images tell the viewer everything too matter-of-factly.
A Little Thank You
Summer 2019 has been an amazing year for Christopher Thomas Photography, we’ve met some amazing people, laughed with them, cried with them, and shared incredible once in a lifetime moments! Thank you to each and every one of my amazing couples for inviting me to celebrate their special day with them. 2019 isn’t over yet, but with the hectic summer schedule behind us it feels right to have a moment of reflection.
We’re booking dates for weddings in 2020 & 2021.
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