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Richard Avedon quotes


Richard Avedon quotes
I don't really remember the day when I stood behind my camera with Henry Kissinger on the other side. I am sure he doesn't remember it either. But this photograph is here now to prove that no amount of kindness on my part could make this photograph mean exactly what he --- or even I --- wanted it to mean. It's a reminder of the wonder and terror that is a photograph.
There's always been a separation between fashion and what I call my "deeper" work. Fashion is where I make my living. I'm not knocking it. It's a pleasure to make a living that way. It's pleasure, and then there's the deeper pleasure of doing my portraits. It's not important what I consider myself to be, but I consider myself to be a portrait photographer.
I was overwhelmed. Mrs. Vreeland kept calling me Aberdeen and asking me if a wedding dress didn't make me want to cry. They're all serious, hardworking people --- they just speak a different language.
So I took my own models out to the beach. I photographed them barefoot, without gloves, running along the beach on stilts, playing leapfrog. When the pictures came in, Brodovitch laid them out on the table and the fashion editor said, "these can't be published. These girls are barefoot." Brodovitch printed them. After that, I was launched very quickly. Those candid snapshots were in direct contrast to what was being done. I came in at a time when there weren't any young photographers working in a free way. Everyone was tired, the war was over, Dior let the skirts down, and suddenly everything was fun. It was historically a marvelous moment for a fashion photographer to begin. I think if I were starting today, it would be much harder.
Youth never moves me. I seldom see anything very beautiful in a young face. I do, though --- in the downward curve of Maugham's lips, in Isak Dinesen's hands. So much has been written there, there is so much to be read, if one could only read. I feel most of the people in my book, Observations, are earthly saints. Because they are obsessed, obsessed with work of one sort or another. To dance, to be beautiful, tell stories, solve riddles, perform in the street. Zavattini's mouth and Escudero's eyes, the smile of Marie-Louise Bousquet: they are sermons on bravado.
My photographs don't go below the surface. They don't go below anything. They're readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I've lost what's really there --- been seduced by someone else's standard of beauty or by the sitter's own idea of the best in him. That's not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest.


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