“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.” – Sam Haskings
Famous for his manipulation of B/W, grain and the nude form in a time decades before Photoshop; he is probably most known for his collection of books, the most famous of which is Cowboy Kate (1964).
This was probably the first creative black-and-white book of the 20th century to deliberately explore photographic grain as a medium for expression and image design.
The book was highly influential at the time and went on to sell roughly a million copies worldwide and win the Prix Nadar in France in 1964.
It could be said that his work continues to influence contemporary photographers, film makers, fashion designers and make up artists nearly five decades after its publication and yet for some reason until I checked him out on wikipedia – I had no idea he was actually from South Africa.
I think a few weeks ago I had a conversation with my wife and her South African friends about famous artists from SA and don’t remember him being mentioned (but I could be wrong here as I couldn’t name a single one).
If you wikipedia him and read the career summary it is amazing how at 76 he was still photographing for YSL and other major fashion houses and managed all of this whilst living in Canberra of all places.
Although he passed away at his own hands in 2009, there is no doubt that fashion photography owes a lasting debt to a man who was both shockingly open and creative in a post war world.