Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin was a fashion photographer active in the 1980’s and most famous for his provocative work for vogue. Much of his work was of female models, he would often make these women look they are doing something wrong, much of his work with these women can be related to religion and the seven deadly sins. Bourdin received his first photographic training during his service in the French Air Force, following this in the mid 1950’s he experimented and developed his style producing fashion images, Bourdin was fascinated by surrealism and this developed into his fashion photographs during this period. In 1950 he starting working for famous artist and photographer Man Ray and by 1955 his first images were published in French Vogue Magazine. During his Thirty Two year period of working with French Vogue he worked closely with fellow photographer Helmut Newton and were widely considered the first contemporary photographers.


Woooo look at that!! Guy Bourdin had a very specific style and the majority of his images reflect this style, especially his fashion images. The models used are always heavy made up with bright punch colours, he always worked with bright hair coloured models with them preferably being red heads, the models would also have very pale skin, the models poses would often be very sexualised making the seem almost like objects but they never had contact with camera making the viewer’s not feel involved with images almost like we are watching the scene unfold. The backgrounds of these images would often be very bright contrasting the pale models, this would also be an intentional contrast to the clothes these models would wear, you would often not be able to see the whole model only parts of them commonly being their legs making them feel like objects. Many of his images seem to have a narrative to them but we only get a section of them, not beginning or end, this images have the feel of an Alfred Hitchcock film to them.

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Personally I am not a fan of Bourdin’s work I think his images are too strange to be considered fashion images, they often rarely feature the products he is supposed to be advertising. The only images that I really like are his movie inspired images that seem to tell a story, I like these as they don’t seem to be adverting anything making it solely about the photograph. I like Bourdin’s techniques his lighting is often very clean and when flairs or reflections appear in the images they are used in very effective ways, I also like the sense of depth in his photos or lack of it. Many of Bourdin’s images appear very flat, he does this by combining the use of colour and positioning of his models to make depth feel obsolete. I like Bourdin’s use of studios in his work and hope to use this in my own work.

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