as we used to say in soviet russia "book is the best gift". i made myself several amazing gifts today and was rushing home to start flipping through the pages.. what first attracted my attention in the window of a thrift bookstore was a beautifully designed cover of "russian style". then i saw the name of the author which sounded familiar, and realized that it was the evelina khromchenko - well-known for her stylish looks and immense influence on russian fashion world editor-in-chief of my beloved l'officiel russia. the book occured to be not only nicely designed but also smartly written. being a modern ABC with fashion pictures on russian culture and so-called misterious "russian soul" it gracefully avoids cliches and denounces many of the stereotypes. (for example, it explains that "za zdoroviye!" is a toast while "na zdoroviye!" is an answer to someone's "spasibo") an absolute "must" to read for anyone interested in the subject - and one of the most precious new additions on my bookshelves.
i wrote about edward steichen and his graphic compositions just couple entries before after attending ICP exhibition on fashion photography. his book "in high fashion" is a classic on style and lighting technique, an endless source of inspiration, and a proof that great pictures don't age despite of the subject matter.
diane arbus is my muse. her pictures are misterious, and sometimes scary, but at the same time so romantic and kind. by the way, if you haven't seen the movie "fur" with nicole kidman as diane arbus - please put it on your netflix queue right now! of course, only "inspired by" it's an exciting and visually inspiring story.
rene magrtitte has always been one of my favorites. i remeber how stunned i was to see his exhibition at hermitage museum about 10 years ago. i wrote down the names of all the paintings in a little notepad, and spent hours in front of the pictures trying to desipher them, to solve the colorful riddles - until they closed the museum. i returned to the exhibition the next day and repeated the circle. i know that i will probably spend hours reading annotations in the pictures in this book echoing to my recollections from the past. the images are still in my head. my head is a green apple, i am wearing an invisible bowler, and the sky outside is of a brightly turquoise color.
yesterday it was a perfect rainy sunday to go for an exhibition - or two. so i did. whitney museum was the choice - they are showing couple great projects there right now.
one of them was jenny holzer's installation. jenny is using mixed media (LED signs, oversized scans of documents, and drawings) to deliver the mixed message - overview of historical and politics eventes together with the words of her own philosophy and private confessions of an everyday diary. beautiful exectution of a thoughtful and ambiguous theme.
another fascination was doug aitken's "sites" - 4 rooms filled with video and sound that overpowers your own reality and leave you in a state of an after-dream. it appeals to you on a very subtle sub-consious level - i am sure that each of the person in the audience understands the installation differently.
it is probably one of my favorite shoots so far.. it happens when all elements fall into place harmonically and - as if - magically. camille (beautiful redhead from NY models i wrote about before) was even more stunning in person then on pictures - 6ft. tall, porcelain skin, pale blue eyes of a 15y.o. beauty, and the most incredible hair running down up to hips level in a heavy copper stream. we had 2 new people in the team - caroline prince was the one taking care of the beautiful golden fleece of camille's hair, and angela campos was creating unique sets to create the right mood on set.
the mood was of a color of indigo. very simple and thoughtful, portrait-like and a little dreamy. black and white clothes chosen for this shoot by dina yassin were a perfect match. anetta klemens created an amazing nude look with a little bit of definition for the eyes emphasizing camille's natural beauty.
it all made my task real easy - i just needed to compose all the elements in my viewfinder and press the shutter release button. such a great way to spend a saturday!
today we've successfully launched location photography season 2009!
despite of the gloomy weather forecast we decided to take the risk. location was chosen more then a year ago and carefully preserved until the right moment.. right moment was created by my beautiful girls - dina (wardrobe) and anetta (make-up&hair), as well as by gorgeous lisa jackson (you probably saw her at american next top model show) from major models.
our location was a hidden greenpoint's gem (so hidden that i managed to get lost driving everybody there), newton creek park at the far east end of box street. it charmed me with its minimal concrete walls of organic shapes - an unexpected piece of architectural design in the middle of nowhere. it was the perfect background to our fashion - minimal clothes of unusual shapes and neutral colors that look stunning on our 6"0 tall jamaican beauty. overcasted sky made me a big favor by serving as an oversized softbox giving the most amazing even lighting while not being too flat.
we finished just on time (again, a record - 7 looks within 3 hours) - at 4pm the downpour started, but we were already driving back to my studio to have delicious polish food bought for all of us by anetta. a little bit of red wine, a friendly chat & laughs about our adventures today, and we are all saying goodbye to get some rest before tomorrow's shoot.. but that will be another story.
last weekend i've attended ICP's exhibition "weird beauty" devoted to contemporary fashion photography with a twist.
it was great to see many of my favorite editorials (alas&piggot, steven klein, steven meisel, hedi slimane, nick knight, tim walker, paolo roversi - among others) on the wall in the striped sequence. almost none of them were new to me but it was great to refresh the memory and see it altogether united by one theme, revealing some kind of pattern. curator's selection was questionable sometimes - there were lots of pretty images (steven meisel's pastel color story for vogue italia, for example) that didn't have anything "weird" about them. i also think that lots of great editorials were omitted without any particular reason. i wish they included some less famous names who have a lot to say on the subject matter. for example, i was missing chadwick tyler's nightmarish creations, or gray scott's dreamy sets, eugenio recuenco's carefully staged and retouched horror fairy tales..at the same time steven klein on its own could take over the whole exhibition space with almost each of his shoots. way more i enjoyed the second room with "this is NOT a fashion photograph" exhibition, as well as downstairs retrospect on edward steichen who's precise and very graphic compositions combined with immaculate lighting created magic on the pages of vogue several decades ago. the exhibition is up for this weekend only. rush to see it!