Primary Research – GUY BOURDIN ‘The Image Maker’.

As an FPI student, my FMP is going to consist of primarily creative outputs. Therefore I felt it was important to dedicate part of my 7003 research to developing my knowledge, skills and experience of crafts such as promotional imaging and film in preparation for this.

The ‘image maker’ was an exhibition centered around the work of the prolific fashion photographer Guy Bourdin.

The UK’s largest ever exhibition of the influential and enigmatic fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, featuring over 100 works and previously unseen material from the photographer’s estate, from 1955 to 1987.  This major show charted Bourdin’s distinguished 40-year career from Man Ray’s protégé to photography revolutionary in his own right and explored his pursuit of perfection. The exhibited works exemplified the craftsmanship behind his images, from production to publication, and their enduring quality as a consequence

Being new to fashion, this was my first experience of this practitioner.  However I was completely struck by his approach to fashion photography which was incredibly challenging and more often than not pretty perverse, especially considering the rigid social structures in the time they were created. However ultimately, this is what enabled them to excel as a selling device as their shocking and highly suggestive ‘exocitism’ meant that consumers could not help themselves taking on the role of the voyeur and having a closer look, ultimately drawing them to the products the narrative was crafted around. For my FMP I want to create images with an edge which evoke individuality and challenge norms of ‘fashion’.  I intend to use Bourdin as a source of inspiration to achieve this!

Another key learning from this exhibition in regards to developing my own imaging practise, was Bourdin’s method as a photographer.  His research and preparation behind the creation of every single image was meticulous. For example for every image he intended to create, he drew a series of proportional mock ups testing out different options.   It is well known that a successful fashion photograph occurs in a split second due to a particular interaction of circumstances at that moment.  However Bourdin’s planning and experience definitely enabled these moments to occur more often than most, as highlighted in his incredible images. It was also necessary in a time where the analog shooting process meant that everything had to be prepared in advance as there were no second chances.  Despite the luxury of having access to the more forgiving digital medium, I took this level of detailed planning forward to create my DARK SNOW image, having considered and created everything necessary before stepping into the studio.  Consequently, the shoot ran incredibly smoothly and resulted in a really exciting output which I could not even have anticipated.  All thanks to the influence of monsieur Bourdin.


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