In my last post I indicated that I was going to talk about the choice of equipment today, I lied. Well, not really, it’s just that while I was writing apparently “someone” threw a switch and I ended up writing what you might want or expect to hear rather than what I think you should hear. As I pondered this, Sarah Moon’s work came to mind and I thought how relevant it would be to present her work before we get into the discussion about equipment.
Sarah Moon is a highly regarded fashion photographer and has been since the 70’s when she stopped modeling and started shooting full-time–that is also when she adopted the name Sarah Moon. She was the first woman to shoot the Pirelli calendar and has created work for the top fashion magazines and companies around the world.
In contrast to the work of Henry Wessel that I presented earlier, Sarah’s work has a much more organic, romantic and emotional sensibility. Her work often transcends the subject and can reach us in unexpected ways if we are open to it–it allows the mind to wander away from what is presented on the surface. Great art does that and while I think Wessel’s work also allows for this, Sarah’s goes different places–maybe more personal, internal places.
To some, it might actually seem she doesn’t understand anything about the technical aspects of photography–her work is blurry, out of focus, blotchy; her highlights are often blown out and shadows blocked; and sometimes the film processing looks totally incompetent. If you think that way, consider altering your thoughts to the fact that just like Ansel Adams was a master of his process, Sarah is a master of her process–they just have a different aesthetic preference about how they express their view of the world. I learned Ansel’s process but I absolutely love Sarah’s.
One thing that I read about her somewhere was that she grew up near-sighted and didn’t have glasses. When she started shooting, she just thought that her photographs revealed how things looked–at least how she had always seen things. I don’t know how true this is, however, I do know that many wonderful ways of seeing happened because people were just “stuck” with some camera that produced a certain type of image (often less than perfect by modern standards) that ended up meshing with their way of expressing the world around. The question might be the old chicken and egg, did the camera suit their way of seeing or did it change their way of seeing. Regardless, the two were happily married and made wonderful babies!
The first video here is narrated by Sarah (an assumption as no narrator is listed in the credits) in a more stream of consciousness way about her process of shooting and is heavily oriented towards her fashion work. It is extremely interesting, IMO, and if you don’t shoot fashion I still think you could identify with and interpolate her process, frustrations and breakthroughs to a sense of what the artistic process is like. Even if you have experienced this yourself, it is always nice to see how someone else works and how things are, or can be, different. This can open up new channels of thought or simply make us aware that we all experience similar things with maybe our own unique twist.
The second video covers a wider range of her work and just has a musical sound track. I know this one has some nudity–tasteful but maybe not something you can watch at work. I don’t think the first one had any but you may want to consider watching it where it wouldn’t matter. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.
By the way, I do expect to come through with the equipment post on Friday.
Of course, I would love to hear any thoughts, comments or alternative perspective you might have.
“A Photographer to Know” will be one of the regular features of this blog. The purpose is to present the work of recognized artists in the field that may not be as widely known to most. Liking or not isn’t the purpose, but rather it is about exposure to what others are doing and/or how others are thinking about or using our medium. By looking at the work of artists in any medium, we can build our own “visual vocabulary” on how visual problems are, or can be, solved.