Final Project: Guy Bourdin (Preliminary Research)

For my final series and paper, I would love to research and emulate the style of Guy Bourdin. 

Guy was a French artist and Fashion photographer known for his raw and provocative images. He shot extensively for Vogue Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar. He also shot ad campaigns for Charles Jourdan, Chanel, Pentax and Bloomingdale’s.

While researching the most iconic and notable fashion photographers, I learnt that Guy Bourdin was one of the most known fashion photographers for the second half of the 20th Century. I was immediately drawn to his images. Unlike a lot of other fashion photographers, Guy’s images are unapologetically provocative and have a dark, almost sadistic narrative going on. He was the first photographer to outrightly state that the product (in ad campaigns) is secondary, and that the story comes first.

He also fought for and finally got the mentorship of surrealist Man Ray , whom heavily influenced his surrealist take on his own images. He is also known for not wanting to be exhibited anywhere outside the magazines, and turned down the Grand Prix National De La Photographie in 1985.

On the ad campaign which he worked on for Charles Jourdan, he was famously known for insisting on having full creative control of the images and used the products he was supposed to be advertising as a prop in a bigger picture narrative that he wanted to tell with his images instead. This is evident in the following photo campaign for Jourdan, where he shot two models after a car accident, wearing Jourdan heels.

Guy was amongst the first to introduce these fascinating narratives into fashion photography, heavily inspired by art history, cinema and literature. I admire the way he makes the narrative the focal point instead of the product, which really sets him apart from the other fashion photographers that beautify and glorify the product. This makes all his photos really interesting as there is a deeper meaning and story behind every photo.

 

 

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Extended Image Final Installation: Return My Love

 

Research

The series deals with a topic that I feel strongly for and am passionate to discuss. Hence, it is based off both personal experience and my observations of the situations around me. It originated from this strong frustration over the behaviour of the female friends in my life that gave away a lot of their future and potential for a relationship that was not worth it in the end.

I struggled to understand their reasons and motivations behind their behaviour. This project pushed me to look more into the situation and understand the reasons behind why this was happening. The title ‘Return My Love’ calls to these females to reclaim the control and power that has been given away, and for them to return their love to themselves.

Working Process

The photo series chronicles the struggle for balance between dependence and independence within a relationship. Within the photos, the message is told through composition and the subject’s emotion.

The girl is the focus of the images. The guy is always framed out of shot and we never see his face or expression. He is the one in power and is the influence on the girl’s emotions and behaviour.

During the process of coming up with this series of images, I first thought of the words associated with the theme that i was tackling:

LONELINESS

DETATCHMENT

OBLIGATION

DEPENDENCY

INSECURITY

ENTRAPMENT

LONGING

UNCERTAINTY

CONTROL

I did plan out a shot list of the shots i envisioned for some words, and for others, it was an instinctive process during the shoot where I would improvise and execute what naturally came to mind. The shots that i ended up comprise of organic poses based off personal experiences.

Artist References / Moodboard

 

I referenced the photographic works of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1985) . I was drawn to the raw look and feel of that series, which represented the drug and sex culture of that era clearly and accurately. The themes of dependency within relationships was also one that resonated with me while thinking about my own topic.

The rest of my mood board consists of film stills from movies like Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Three times (2005) and Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild (1990). I felt that these stills were very intimate, which was brought out through the character’s emotions and the composition and lighting choices.

Those were factors which i tried to emulate within my photo series to get my message across without being to direct, which hopefully allowed the viewer to develop their own interpretations of each photo.

 

 

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