My Musings. The Irving Penn Way



“We don’t call them shoots here. We don’t shoot people. It’s really a love affair.”

– Irving Penn

I was recently tasked with photographing an editorial for Extol magazine that would feature the clothing from a local brand called The New Blak. However, unlike many of the editorials I have shot in the past, after two weeks of pondering, I was still completely unsure of the direction the shoot would take. This lead to frustration, which ultimately lead to a complete breakdown of productivity. But isn’t that how it sometimes goes with creatives, though? You almost get stuck in this viscous cycle that starts to feel unbreakable.

However, this particular dilemma (lack of productivity) did lead me to a bit of contemplation on how one can break this cycle that can feel frustrating and almost paralyzing at times.

Question: What is an artist to do when they are having a serious bought of creative block?


In my particular case, Irving Penn, an iconic photographer, was my source of inspiration.

Irving Penn’s photography graced 165 Vogue covers during his 66 year career at the publication. He was not only one of the first photographers to shoot couture creations in natural studio light, but he also crafted beauty campaigns for major companies like Clinique that were completely groundbreaking for their time. The photographer was a true visionary whose work showed the world that fashion is more than some frivolous pursuit, or a mere tool for upping one’s social ranking. It is artistic expression in one of its truest forms, because we utilize it every day to convey who we are, and how we want the world to see us. It is this very notion that has inspired me in my work.

Now, I can’t quite claim that my next shoot will turn out like Penn’s famous Women with White Rose portrait. However, I can definitively say that I will be taking on this shoot with a fresh perspective and a head full of ideas.

Stay tuned.

Ph: Vogue 

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