The model as artist


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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The model as artist

31 Jan 2022 1:16PM   Views : 481 Unique : 273


I can’t resist looking round secondhand bookshelves, and they can often provide photographic inspiration: especially when I find books of photographs by a photographer whose name I don’t know. A visit to Attingham Park and the National Trust’s secondhand bookshop a couple of weeks ago introduced me to Gautier Deblonde and his pictures of British artists.

The introduction by Mel Gooding struck a chord for me: it suggested that when an artist is the model for a picture, something unusual can be going on. There is a complicity between the artists in front of and behind the camera, at least sometimes. Gooding makes the distinction between pictures taken for publicity and pictures of ‘the artist at work’ – both of them distinct from the sort of pictures Deblonde has produced.


The starting point for Gooding's introduction is a pair of photographs of Charles Baudelaire taken by Nadar. The author quotes Baudelaire on the portraiture of Ingres – that he is not ‘one of those painters-by-the-hour… Had to which the common loud can go person hand to demand the reproduction of his an unseemly person’ but that he ‘chooses his models’, bringing ‘a wonderful discernment to his choice of those that are best suited to exploit his special kind of talent.’


This seems to me to be highly relevant to the way that photographers treat portraits – that very often the aim is to capture an image of a person in a particular place, or performing a particular activity, or fitting into a particular view of how they ought to be. A common view of the paid photographic model is that they’re a sort of plasticine to be moulded to the photographer’s vision.

That’s not how I view it. I view my use of paint models as being the choice of subjects who will let me exercise such talent as I have, and who will be part of a collaborative artistic enterprise. If that doesn’t sound rather too pretentious a description.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Jan 2022 1:18PM
Illustrations are of Adam Aaronson in his studio for a demonstration in 2009 - definitely reportage, as I was one member of the audience of two or three dozen, at least. And of Joceline. So why not one more?

PaulCox Avatar
1 Feb 2022 10:35AM
Yes books on photography can give you ideas for photo to try I managed to get a copy of the Kathy Harcom Book you mentioned a few blogs ago for £4.75 plus some postage from that “Am—-on” company, and loved her interpretation of IR photo. Keep the blogs going. Paul.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
2 Feb 2022 11:26AM
They are going to be slowing down now, as I get out and take more pictures...

But there will be a few, still.

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