If you don't know his work, this is a great short overview of the life, career, and work of the late Herb Ritts, one of the great American fashion photographers of the '80s and '90s. There's typically a lot of hagiography enmeshed into the publicity of commercial photographers, because it helps with marketing, and this video carries on in that mode; but it's not hard to see Herb Ritts' talent. You'll know some of the pictures, I would guess.
I'm not "into" fashion, so I'm really not qualified to put him into perspective in any meaningful way, but he was at the very top tier in fashion photography in America in the '90s, and he was at the vanguard of a trend for celebrity portraiture that peaked in those years. His highly stylized, neoclassical photography of idealized faces and bodies is easy to appreciate. (Ritts died in 2002 at the age of 50. Ginia Bellafante, in her obituary, wrote, "Mr. Ritts, like George Platt Lynes, relied on clean, graphic compositions that often portrayed models and celebrities in the visual language of classical Greek sculpture.") At the very least, anyone could learn a lot from Herb Ritts' feel for light and B&W tone. (When left to his own devices he was a Tri-X devotee, and like Annie Leibovitz he shot mostly with a medium-format Mamiya RZ67.)
(The video was sponsored by Lincoln Motor Co. in conjunction with an exhibition of Ritts' work at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 2012, but fear not, it's not a car ad.)
(Thanks to Chuck Embrey)
P.S. Here's the book.
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Featured Comments from:
Benjamin Marks: "I'm with Robert (in the Comments Section) on this one. I think that Herb Ritts and Irving Penn were cut from the same cloth. Great sense of composition, great, great eyes, but also a sense of play. I don't aspire to take those photographs, but I was amazed when watching the movie Mike linked to how often I said to myself, 'Oh, yeah...that photo.'
"Moreover, while I wouldn't want to hang them on my wall, I am really happy that his pictures are in my mental database...I think that the photographs that stick with you in whatever capacity together form the kind of photographer you are. They tether you to your visual era somehow.
"Thanks for the link/video Mike. It was a thoroughly enjoyable distraction."
Mike replies: We can both thank Chuck, who sent it to me.