Monday, October 3, 2011

Today in Photography History / Bert Stern

 Other than the big picture magazines of the day such as, Life , Look , De Stern , Holiday , there were the monthly glossies, namely Bazaar and  Vogue.  Occasionally Vanity Fair ,  Playboy  and Penthouse would appear in our household.  Of these Life and Vogue were most often leafed through and held my attention long enough to think photography was a  profession and not just a hobby to be pursued at the high school newspaper or yearbook.

One day an issue of Vogue appeared with which at the time were very racy images of Marilyn Monroe. Photographer , Bert Stern had held a 3 day shooting session with MM and produced thousands of images of her in many alluring and beautiful poses. It was marketed to be her last great shooting session and the best works of Bert Stern before her death weeks later.

What had the lasting impression for me was the soft  color of the photographs. There were pinks and pastel blues but mostly it was the impact of the image on the page. It was as though a veil was the only thing that separated me the viewer for the subject. It felt like I was right there peering over the photographers shoulder.  It would be an end result I would strive for in my images for years.  For a time , he and Peter Gowland were my "it " glamour photographers.

Bert Stern was also very successful as a advertising photographer and film maker.  Most notably his Smirnoff Vodka ad that became the iconic triangular composition. Shot in Egypt ,  the image featured a martini glass with olive and a looming pyramid  soft focused in background. It was very dynamic at the time.

"Jazz on A Summers  Day" was a documental film he produced on the Newport Jazz Festival.  It is regarded as a forerunner to festival films of today.

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