Inspiration from the past

I take inspiration from art and from other photographers. Being involved in a visual medium, one cannot help but take in images from the past and present. This appreciation of what has been helped shape the way I photograph people. One way photographers grow is by looking to recreate images that have inspired them but adding one's own style to the mix.

The Birth of the Cool is a large coffee table book by Martin Harrison (there was also an associated exhibition) that transports the viewer back to the early years of British Photographer, David Bailey’s career. Covering 1957 - 1969, the book showcases a wide range of Bailey’s work and there are some iconic images of actors, musicians, artists as well as copious fashion shoots. Bailey was one of three Brits, the others being Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, that captured the ‘Swinging Sixties’ from the UK’s perspective. I found the Birth of the Cool in one of Vancouver’s used book stores and it’s become a source of inspiration and wonder. 

Bailey served as an assistant to other London based advertising photographers. His style can be traced back to US magazines as well as members of the British photographic ‘royalty’ such as Cecil Beaton. However, the explosion of creativity that occurred in the UK as the ’50s transitioned into the ’60s provided Bailey with the opportunity to push well beyond what was considered as traditional advertising and fashion imagery.  Over time, Bailey became one of the points of reference for fashion and portrait photographers and his style has certainly had an impact on me, even subconsciously.

I was thumbing back through The Birth of the Cool this week and came across a couple of images that certainly shared the same vibe as one of my recent studio shoots with Elena. Over 50 years separate these images, yet it’s clear that some styles endure. If I’m going to be inspired by others, it may as well be by one of the greats.

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