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.