Focus {Helena Christensen}

photo by Helena Christensen:Kate Bosworth
Liv Taylor by Helena Christensen
Kate Bosworth by Helena Christensen
Photography by Helena Christensen

Yes, Helena Christensen is not only a gorgeous supermodel, she is a fantastic photographer as well. I have always admired Helena in the pages of the fashion mags, she is such a stunner and a natural beauty and one of my fave models. I remember being absolutely thrilled to find out that she was also an amazing photographer. I first discovered her work years ago when some of it would come through the lab I used to work at in LA. She'd order quality fiber based printing from us and her images were just beautiful. Quiet, moody, rich and engaging is how I would describe her photographs. Helena has many forms of photographic style, I particularly love her film work, polaroids and medium format camera use. Having had such an incredible career in front of the lens for 2 decades it is so cool to appreciate her talent as a photographer too. I love her photography so much, the style, the atmosphere of it- huge inspiration. Thanks Helena!

See more of Helena Christensen's photography here. If you have 20 minutes to spare and you really love photography- watch this video from the Capture Channel featuring an insightful interview with Helena and the amazing photographer Mary Ellen Mark. Also check out these sweet little articles here, here and here for a lovely introduction to Helena and her take on photography, design, parenting and a creative life. Enjoy!

Focus {Helmut Newton}

I went to a Helmut Newton exhibit when I was in L.A. this summer- it was such a cool retrospective of such a very distinctive photographer, I just have to share for this month's {Focus} feature.

Helmut was born in Berlin, Germany in 1920 into an affluent, liberal family. He bought his first camera at age 12 and as a teenager apprenticed with noted German photographer Else Simon. In 1938 Helmut and his family fled Germany, escaping the troubled war-torn Europe with Helmut eventually ending up and settling in Australia, gaining citizenship there in 1945. In Melbourne he set up his own photography studio and met his wife, actress June Browne. June played an integral part in Newton's career- she modelled for him, curated his exhibitions and edited his books. She also became a photographer herself, shooting under the pseudonym Alice Springs. During the 1950's, Helmut shot for British and Australian Vogue and then moved to Paris in 1961, where he joined French Vogue.

Renowned for his outrageous, bold and mythic fashion photography, Helmut Newton pushed the genre to record levels. His style was heavily inspired by film noir and his images are explicit and voyeuristic. Helmut's signature high contrast, glossy black and white photographs almost always feature elite statuesque models in heightened scenes of reality. His use of light is untraditional often shooting in direct sunlight or at night with street light, as well as the use of heavy flash and harsh shadow- the result is stunning and very strong. Helmut's photographs evoke both curiosity and fascination while at the same time portraying a range of contradictions and controversy. Amusing and stylish, go Helmut!!

You can read more about Helmut Newton here and here, and see more of his images here. Visit his facebook fan page for interesting updates.

Focus {Lillian Bassman}

Lillian Bassman
Lilian Bassman
Lillian Bassman photo
photo Lillian Bassman
photo Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman is one of my photography heroes. She is so rad! Renown for her high contrast, dreamy fashion portraits, Lillian Bassman first started out as a graphic designer and art director at Harper's Baazar magazine in the 1940's. Working at a top fashion magazine in New York City, Bassman actually showcased many prominent fashion photographers of the day, which soon gave her the appetite to become a photographer herself. During her lunch hours, Bassman would frequent the darkroom to develop the images of her famous colleagues. In the darkroom she began to experiment with the developing process using tissue and gauze to bring selected areas of the photograph into focus and applied bleach to manipulate tone. She had a certain vision and style well before taking her own photographs! Bassman soon learned the camera and continued her own self-education in photography. Before long she was landing photo jobs with her magazine connections and became a very sought after commercial photographer in her own right. Lillian Bassman is best known for her expressive portraits of slender elegant models advertising lingerie, cosmetics, fabric, liquor and cigarettes of 1940's and 1950's America. Her images are ethereal, intense and just kind of lovely don't you think?

Read more about Lillian Bassman here and view more of her work here along with her fan page. Enjoy.

Focus {Ramon Masats}

Ramon Masats 1

Since I'm off to Spain next week- HUGE SMILE HERE : ), our {Focus} feature is Spanish photographer Ramon Masats, one of the great names in Spanish photography. Ramon Masats was born in 1931 in Barcelona and took an interest in photography in his early 20's when he came across an art magazine called "Arte Fotografico." He says he had always had a fondness for doing something creative and had previously tried his hands at drawing but felt he wasn't any good at it. Photography became his perfect expression and he took to it quickly with the purchase of his first camera and a steady pursuit of snapping around the region capturing the landscape, festivals and cultural events of Spain. Ramon Masats is wonderfully talented in documentary and storytelling style. His fist exhibition as an amateur was in 1955/1956 which was very well received and in 1957 he moved to Madrid to become a professional. Over the course of his long career, Masats has made many unforgettable photographs of daily life in Spain and Spanish landscape. His images are direct and poetic and I love the graphic style of his work. Masats only uses analogue film cameras still to this day. He shoots on Leica, Nikon and Hasselblad. Digital does not worry him and he prefers to just shoot for fun now, enjoying the simplicity of the original craft.

See more of Ramon Masats work here at the beautifully curated Blanca Galeria Berlin. This sweet interview with the photographer here and check out his site and fb page too.

Focus {Leroy Grannis}

Makaha, Hawaii 1968 by LeRoy Grannis
Hermosa Beach, California 1963 by Leroy Grannis
Waimea Bay 1966 by Leroy Grannis
Mike Doyle, Waimea, 1967 by Leroy Grannis
1963 Leroy Grannis

Aloha! Our photographer of the month is the legendary "godfather" of surf photography, Leroy Grannis (1917-2011). I have an extra special appreciation for Grannis' work as he is from my home turf- Hermosa Beach, California. Grannis is famous for his phenomenal surf photography and his iconic imagery of surf culture from the 1960's and 1970's. He was an avid surfer himself and active in the emerging Southern California surf scene of his time. At age 42, he took up photography as a hobby whilst on a break from his day job. Grannis began to pursue the medium more seriously and quickly became a star figure in documenting the growing popularity of the sport and it's counter culture. He first started with a 35mm German camera and a darkroom in his garage, selling $1 dollar prints to local Hermosa Beach surfers. In 1960, he sold his first commercial photos to a small publication called Reef magazine. Then in 1962, Grannis became the chief photographer for 'Surfing Illustrated' and later co-founded 'International Surfing', now known as Surfing Magazine. Back then, photos were shot mostly from the beach using long lenses and in 1963 Grannis started using a Calypso underwater camera, one invented by oceanographer Jaques Cousteau. Shortly later Grannis developed a method of sealing his camera inside a wooden box attached to his surfboard which allowed him to change films out on the water and not have to go back to shore each time to reload. He was then in his element, paddling out to where all the action was, brilliant! Photographing both in California and Hawaii, Leroy Grannis is celebrated for capturing some of the most enduring surf images from the golden age of the sport.

Further reading and photos...