Also known as Gaspard-Félix Tournachon. Nadar was a pseudonym by Tournachon when he delved into one of his many careers as a caricaturist.
Nadar’s works spans into many different genres, notably: portraiture and aerial. He became one of the most famous portrait photographers, taking portraits of politicians, actors and musicians, known for his impeccable use of light in his photos.
This eccentric man’s journey into photography was also slightly unconventional. A banker friend of his offered to back Nadar on a portrait photography business. Intrigued by this offer, he got his younger brother, Adrien Tournachon, to be the main operator. After paying for the younger Tournachon’s photography lessons (by Gustav Le Gray — no less!), the younger brother decided to abandon Nadar and open the studio on his own. This inevitably intrigued Nadar to pursue photography on his own time.
Many complications and disputes later, Nadar finally took charge of the studio and during this journey, created some of the beautiful portraits we know today. He grasped a tenderness in his portraiture that was unlike any other. He exaplains that:
“What can [not] be learned … is the moral intelligence of your subject; it’s the swift tact that puts you in communion with the model, makes you size him up, grasp his habits and ideas in accordance with his character, and allows you to render, not an indifferent plastic reproduction that could be made by the lowliest laboratory worker, commonplace and accidental, but the resemblance that is most familiar and most favorable, the intimate resemblance. It’s the psychological side of photography—the word doesn’t seem overly ambitious to me.”
I was personally very inspired by Nadar upon my research for this assignment because I love portraits. I personally find them so beautiful and timeless. It’s been something that has always intrigued me, and a genre that I hope to grow in as a photographer.
For portrait photographers, I am always drawn to their self-portraits because I’m always interested to see how they wanted to portray themselves. This particular portrait of Nadar amused me and stuck on my mind since the first week Meridel introduced him to us:
This photo series was more of a documentary as opposed to an art form, but I loved it. So, I did my own take on it, and tried to recreate the same charm of it.
And also a gif of it! Same as the one I found that someone did of Nadar’s work.