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Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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16 Sep 2020 10:06AM   Views : 474 Unique : 297


It’s more than a decade since one of the best and most influential photographers of women died, and it’s surprising that he’s not better known. Bob Carlos Clarke first came to general notice in the late Seventies, shooting glossy monochrome images with a fetishy theme, including an ad for Duracell which – if memory serves – was shot in a ruined church in Heptonstall. But it was a long time ago…

Apart from the sheer glossiness and very high technical quality, I found myself interested by his work because he shot with a Pentax 6x7 – the size and the lenshood in the self-portrait with model are a giveaway. That’s a 45mm lens, by the way. I own one...

That shot says a lot about the man and his images. The model is absolutely stunning, and she’s rendered as an earthy goddess by the lens. He was consciously scandalous – one of the many quotes in his best book, anonymous: ‘It’s a beautiful business: you put women on a pedestal and look up their skirts.’

He shot charity calendars and Thames riverside debris, and published a book of pictures from Marco Pierre White’s kitchen, White Heat – but his signature dish was Shooting Sex – the definitive guide to undressing beautiful strangers. Sadly, it’s out of print, and looking at current prices, my copy may be the best investment I ever made in photography. In keeping with his tendency to technical excellence, it’s beautifully printed on heavy paper.

You will find images in it that disturb you, and a few that wouldn’t make it onto the pages of Ephotozine, but it is worth reading as a (mostly) honest guide to taking erotic images. I think that it must have been when I sat in the front row at a Practical Photography roadshow that he said the first requirement for a good darkroom was the right sound system: images of his own darkroom still make me envious – spacious and very well-equipped.

Mind you, at another PP roadshow, Larry Bartlett, demonstrating printing technique, commented that BCC had spent all night producing a fine print – and had then contracted out the other 99 to him…
I’m tempted to quote one paragraph, but won’t, because it’s very upfront about the opening sentence ‘Treat nudes with respect.’ But it encapsulates his approach – he was serious about a subject that is not really very mainstream. Another quote is worthwhile, though, from the same page. ‘I don’t like to persuade people to take their clothes off. The model needs to convince herself that it’s a good idea.’ With BCC behind the camera, it usually was.


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nellacphoto Avatar
16 Sep 2020 10:18AM
Now you've made me think of this again ... signed by Jilly and Bob

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
16 Sep 2020 10:33AM
A good memory to have stirred, Colin!

And that's a good example of his style, which adds value and interest. Thank you!
nellacphoto Avatar
16 Sep 2020 10:44AM

Quote:A good memory to have stirred, Colin!

And that's a good example of his style, which adds value and interest. Thank you!

It's actually an amazing photo of Jilly with her on a pedestal towering over a small city

And all done long before Photoshop!

The making of the photo is actually featured on a BBC documentary I watched at the time called 5 Photos of Jilly Johnson, featuring 5 very different photographers (I had the pleasure of meeting one of them, Jane Bown, many years ago. But that's a whole other story)

The quality's not great and you might have to sign in/sign up to view it ... but worth a watch ... even for the older camera and equipment used for the photos

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
19 Sep 2020 1:29PM
Thanks for the link, Colin. It works for me.

Jane Bown is a name that ought to be more widely known. An outstanding portrait photographer, but the diametric opposite of Annie Liebowitz (for instance). Low key to the point of going subterranean.
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
19 Sep 2020 1:58PM
Ah, Bob!
I came very close to contributing funding to the motion picture of his autobiography set by his wife after his tragic end... You hold a nice treasure dudler.

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