Throughout my life to date, I have grieved over the absence of two photographers.
The first loss I’ve suffered is the passing of photographer Edward Charles Moore – as he was my father – and most can relate to this. He died in November of 2005 at the age of 87 years old. Not a day goes by without thoughts of him… In many ways, he and I had been like minded. Although I regret never having learned all that much in photography skills from him.
The other photographer is Michael Thompson. And from recent searches online, I presume he is still among the living. But the amazing fashion editorials I so much admired within the pages of W Magazine seem to have dwindled off in the last decade or so. Due to this mysterious absence, I finally knuckled and bought a book of Thompson’s work, “Images”. Published in 2005. Also, in reading Thompson’s forward, I learned that he also had a father who had been a professional photographer.
Among the brilliant selections of works in this book, I was most mesmerized by one titled “Blue Princess”, originally having appeared in W Magazine, 2001. Really, the lighting cast upon model Carmen Maria [now known as Carmen Maria Hillestad] is some sort of studio alchemy of light and shadows.
In my 9” x 12” rendering of the photo, I have her gaze changed from somewhat downward to a direct look at the viewer.
When researching for a little background story to accompany my sketch which is taken from a 1949 photo by Sir Cecil Beaton, I found Beaton himself being interviewed that the BBC had aired in 1962. Because Beaton had not just “one vocation” – his photography, theatrical stage design, and writing, to name a few – he was asked “Does photography keep going all the time?” In answer Beaton says, “No, uh… I don’t want to get stale at it. … I want to try to remain an amateur at it in order that I have the amateur’s freshness and spontaneity.”
I feel rather aligned with that belief a great deal of the time. Yes, there are times when I yearn for a level of decisiveness in mastering a medium; but would it also feel painfully repetitive?
Evelyn Tripp by Cecil Beaton 1949 9″ x 12″, Graphite and Colored Pencils
After viewing the BBC interview, I continued on this YouTube track by watching a film entitled “Beaton by Bailey”. In this, photography legend David Bailey more or less profiles Cecil Beaton in documented snippets. Some of these, lovingly. But then some, a bit tarnished. What I had taken away from the contrast is that Beaton’s works were better with seasoned muses. For Vogue, he had captured Evelyn Tripp – who does not at all fade amidst numerous Matisse cut-outs added to the set.