Friday, August 26, 2011

Adolph de Meyer

"Adolph de Meyer" by Frederick Hollyer

"Gertrude Vanderbilt," American Vogue, 1917

"Josephine Baker," 1925

"Mary Pickford"

"Ann Pennington"

"Still Life, Hydrangea," 1907

"Dolores," (ca) 1919

"Glass and Shadows," 1912


"Dorothy Smoller," American Vogue, 1919

Biography from Wikipedia:

Adolph de Meyer (September 1, 1868 - January 6, 1949) was a photographer famed for his elegant photographic portraits in the early 20th century, many of which depicted celebrities such as Mary Pickford, Rita Lydig, Luisa Casati, Billie Burke, Irene Castle, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Ruth St. Denis, King George V of the United Kingdom, and Queen Mary. He was also the first official fashion photographer for the American magazine Vogue, appointed to that position in 1913.

Reportedly born in Paris and educated in Dresden, Adolphus Meyer was the son of a German Jewish father and Scottish mother -- Adolphus Louis Meyer and his wife, the former Adele Watson.

In 1893 he joined the Royal Photographic Society and moved to London in 1895.

He used the surnames Meyer, von Meyer, de Meyer, de Meyer-Watson, and Meyer-Watson at various times in his life. From 1897 he was known as Baron Adolph Edward Sigismond de Meyer, though some contemporary sources list him as Baron Adolph von Meyer and Baron Adolph de Meyer-Watson.

In editions dating from 1898 until 1913, Whitaker's Peerage stated that de Meyer's title had been granted in 1897 by Frederick Augustus III of Saxony, though another source states "the photographer inherited it from his grandfather in the 1890s". Some sources state that no evidence of this nobiliary creation, however, has been found.

On 25 July 1899, at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, Cadogan Square, in London, England, de Meyer married Donna Olga Caracciolo, an Italian noblewoman who had been divorced earlier that year from Nobile Marino Brancaccio; she was a goddaughter of Edward VII. The couple reportedly met in 1897, at the home of a member of the Sassoon banking family, and Olga would be the subject of many of her husband's photographs.

From 1898 to 1913 de Meyer lived in fashionable Cadogan Gardens, London, and between 1903 and 1907 his work was published in Alfred Stieglitz's quarterly Camera Work. Cecil Beaton dubbed him "the Debussy of photography". In 1912 he photographed Nijinsky in Paris.

On the outbreak of World War I, the de Meyers, who in 1916 took the new names of Mahrah and Gayne, on the advice of an astrologer, moved to New York City, where he became a photographer for Vogue from 1913–21, and for Vanity Fair. In 1922 de Meyer accepted an offer to become the Harper's Bazaar chief photographer in Paris, spending the next 16 years there.

On the eve of World War II in 1938, de Meyer returned to the United States, and found that he was a relic in the face of the rising modernism of his art.

He died in Los Angeles in 1946, his death being registered as 'Gayne Adolphus Demeyer, writer (retired)'. Today, few of his prints survive, most having been destroyed during World War II.

Friday, August 19, 2011

John Vachon

John Vachon

"Downtown Street Scene, Chicago," 1941

"Big Cop, Lincoln, Nebraska," 1938

"Boy Near Cincinnati, Ohio," 1942

"Drinking Fountain, Halifax, North Carolina," 1938

"Fountain, Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri," 1940

"The Old Ball Game, Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan," 1942

"Three Women, Iowa," 1940

"God Bless America, Ambridge, Pennsylvania," 1941
"Marilyn Monroe," 1953

"Old Cathedral, Vincennes, Indiana," 1941

John Vachon biography from Wikipedia:

John F. Vachon (May 19, 1914 – April 20, 1975) was an American Photographer. He worked as a filing clerk for the Farm Security Administration before Roy Stryker recruited him to join a small group of photographers, including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn, who were employed to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America.

Vachon was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from Cretin High School (now Cretin-Derham Hall High School). He received a bachelors degree in 1934 from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, then named St. Thomas College. In about 1938 he married Millicent Leeper who was known as Penny. She died in 1960. Vachon married Françoise Fourestier in 1961. Vachon served in the United States Army in 1945.

John Vachon's first job at the Farm Security Administration carried the title "assistant messenger." He was twenty-one, and had come to Washington from his native Minnesota to attend The Catholic University of America. Vachon had no intention of becoming a photographer when he took the position in 1936, but as his responsibilities increased for maintaining the FSA photographic file, his interest in photography grew.

By 1937 Vachon had looked enough to want to make photographs himself, and with advice from Ben Shahn he tried out a Leica in and around Washington. His weekend photographs of "everything in the Potomac River valley" were clearly the work of a beginner, but Stryker lent him equipment and encouraged him to keep at it. Vachon received help as well from Walker Evans, who insisted that he master the view camera, and Arthur Rothstein, who took him along on a photographic assignment to the mountains of Virginia. In October and November 1938, Vachon traveled to Nebraska on his first extensive solo trip. He photographed agricultural programs on behalf of the FSA's regional office and pursued an extra assignment from Stryker: the city of Omaha.

The hallmark of this style of photography is the portrayal of people and places encountered on the street, unembellished by the beautifying contrivances used by calendar and public relations photographers.

He was a photographer for the Office of War Information in Washington, D.C. from 1942 to 1943, and then staff photographer for Standard Oil Company of New Jersey between 1943 and 1944. Between 1945 and 1947 he photographed New Jersey and Venezuela for Standard, and Poland for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

Vachon became a staff photographer for Life magazine, where he worked between 1947 and 1949, and for over twenty five years beginning in 1947 at Look magazine. In 1953 Vachon took the first pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio when Monroe cured a sprained ancle near Banff, Canada. When Look closed in 1971 he became a freelance photographer. In 1975 he was a visiting lecturer at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

He died in 1975 in New York at age 60.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Louise Dahl-Wolfe at Work in her Studio

"Mary Jane Russell in a Dress by Dior"

"Carson McCullers," 1940

"Cecil Beaton"

"Crostobal Balenciaga," 1950

"Lauren Bacall," 1942

"Night Bathing"

"Twins at the Beach"

Louise Dahl-Wolfe biography from the Museum of Contemporary Photography at
Columbia College in Chicago:

Louise Emma Augusta Dahl was born to Norwegian parents in San Francisco, California on November 19, 1895. In 1914 she began her studies at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where she stayed for six years, studying design with Rudolph Schaeffer. She became interested in photography in 1921 upon meeting and seeing the pictorial work of Anne Brigman. Dahl worked as a sign designer for the Federal Electric Co., San Francisco from 1920 to 1922. She studied design and decoration, and architecture at Columbia University, New York in 1923. In 1924 she was employed as an assistant to decorator Beth Armstrong in San Francisco, and from 1925 to 1927 she worked for Armstrong, Carter and Kenyon, a fashion wholesale company. In 1928 she met the sculptor Meyer Wolfe in Tunisia and married him in San Francisco. She wanted to take the last name Wolfe, but later, lest she be mistaken for a particular commercial photographer by the same name, she adopted the hyphenated “Dahl-Wolfe.”

Dahl-Wolfe began to concentrate on making photographs while in San Francisco and Tennessee in the early 1930s. She spent the summer of 1932 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee photographing the people of the Smoky Mountains. One of those portraits became her first published work, appearing in Vanity Fair in 1933, and Edward Steichen included her Tennessee pictures in a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1937. From 1933 to 1960, Dahl-Wolfe operated a New York photographic studio that at first was home to the freelance advertising and fashion work she made for stores including Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue, but soon was in use for Harper’s Bazaar projects (including such photographs as the carefully staged Japanese Bath from 1954 and Isamu Noguchi, New York, the 1955 portrait of a designer and his lamps).

From 1936 to 1958 Dahl-Wolfe was a staff fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar. During that tenure, Dahl-Wolfe’s photographs featured in the magazine included 86 covers, another 600 published in color, and thousands in black-and-white. A cover image of Betty Bacall sent the model for a Hollywood screen test where she soon changed her name to Lauren. While working for Harper’s Dahl-Wolfe pioneered the use of natural lighting in fashion photography and shooting on location. She photographed in locations all over the northern hemisphere: from Laguna Beach, California (Rubber bathingsuit, January 1940), to the winter quarters of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Sarasota Florida (Two models with elephants, May 1947) to Granada, Spain (Jean Patchett, 1953). Her innovations and modernist touches kept her widely celebrated in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and she is remembered as an influence on a generation of photographers including Horst, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn.

Dahl-Wolfe preferred portraiture to fashion work, and while at Harper’s she photographed cultural icons and celebrities including film-maker Orson Wells (1938), writer Carson McCullers (1940) designer Christian Dior (1946), photographer Cecil Beaton (1950), writer Colette (1951), and broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (1953). In addition to her Harper’s responsibilities, Dahl-Wolfe was able to pursue her own vision in the studio and sometimes even while on assignment. For example, she asked a model to pose for the unpublished Nude in the Desert while on location in California’s Mojave Desert shooting swimsuits that would appear in the May 1948 edition of Harper’s.

From 1958 until her retirement in 1960, Dahl-Wolfe worked as a freelance photographer for Vogue, Sports Illustrated, and other periodicals. Major exhibitions of her work include Women of Photography: An Historical Survey at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1975); The History of Fashion Photography (1977) and Recollections: Ten Women of Photography (1979) at International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; and Portraits at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson (1986). Retrospectives include shows at Grey Art Gallery, New York University (1983); Cheekwood Fine Arts Center, Nashville, Tennessee (1984); and Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Ninetieth Birthday Salute at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (1985). Louise Dalhl-Wolfe lived many of her later years in Nashville, Tennessee, though she died in New Jersey of pneumonia in 1989.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Roman Loranc

Roman Loranc portrait by Kim Weston

"Little Shasta Church"

"The Great Unconformity"

"Franciscan Church, Vilnius"

"Small Chapel on the Hill"

"Chimney Sweep"

"The Gang"

"Tufted Hairgrass"

"Small Chapel"

"The Last Road"


I am most grateful to Mr. Loranc for his kind permission to post his work on my blog.

Some photographers believe their strongest work comes from exploring their immediate surroundings. "I think of myself as a regional photographer," Loranc says, "but that does not mean the photography cannot be understood beyond the region. Right now people all over the United States indicate to me that regionalism, born of an informed attachment, has universal appeal." Loranc shoots most of his pictures within an hour's drive of his home in California but he is also interested in exploring his ancestral roots in Europe. For this reason he makes occasional photographic forays into Poland and Lithuania.

"I'm fascinated by the ancient churches of my homeland," he says. "These are holy spaces where millions of people have prayed for hundreds of years. They are places of great humility, and remind us how brief our lives are. I feel the same way when I'm photographing ancient groves of native oaks in California. I was unconscious of this when I began, but upon reflection, I think the oaks are just as sacred as the old cathedrals of Europe. They are sacred in that they have survived for so many years. I'm aware that the native people of California held all living things as divine. For me a grove of Valley Oaks is as sacred as any church in Europe."

"I think about how interconnected the world is," Loranc says. "When I'm out on a crisp winter's morning, shooting a stand of native oaks, I see oak galls hanging from the trees. These were once used to make the pyrogallol chemicals I use to develop my negatives. So the oak trees I am photographing played a part in the developer I use to process my negatives of those trees. It is healthy to remember that we are often linked to the natural world in ways we don't even suspect."

Loranc shapes the photo from start to finish. He operates a 4x5 Linhof field camera, shoots the majority of his photographs with a 210mm Nikkor lens, using Kodak's classic Tri-X film, and hand prints his negatives on multigrade fiber paper. Mr. Loranc is a firm believer that images can best and most genuinely be captured only through the use of film. As such, all of his prints are from film, and the only film he uses is Kodak’s Tri-X, which he has found to be reliable, consistent and, of utmost importance, only of the highest quality. The innate drama of the landscapes is reproduced through a variable split-toning (sepia and selenium) technique. All the printing, spotting, and archival mounting are done by the photographer.

Roman Loranc was born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, in 1956. He emigrated to the United States in 1981. In 1984 he moved to California, and shortly thereafter fell in love with the Central Valley.

*Majority of biography text borrowed from Black & White Magazine, Aug 2004, David Best and from Bloomsbury Review, Nov/Dec 2003, John A. Murray