Monday, December 17, 2012

Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895 -1989) is without a doubt one of my favourite photographers. Her images were infused with historical references (as with Horst) and her use of natural light was legendary. Originally her work leaned more towards portraiture but in time she became the house photographer for Harpers-Bazaar in New York (1936 - 1958). Her discovery of a young Lauren Bacall is the stuff of fashion and movie legend... so much so that she even placed her on the cover.

She was referred to as an 'environmental' fashion photographer in the sense that she'd use exotic locations as her backdrops for styled shots. To me she represents one of the group of photographers whose work in the 1950's, in particular, shed light on a rapidly changing world. A world in which women were joining the workforce in ever increasing numbers and where 'cruise collections' were making an appearance. Her window in to the rarified hothouse of haute couture and extensive work in advertising lends her work a very personal touch. People on a beach casually looking over their shoulders, unaware of her lens, or Diana Vreeland sitting imperiously in profile as if engaged in a conversation with friends. Whatever the desired effect was it certainly makes the vapid 'selfies' of Facebook look more meaningless than we can imagine. 

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