When I first got into photography I didn’t really know who the ‘great’ photographers were. I had a vague understanding of photographers like Irving Penn, Don McCullin, Ansel Adams. Then as I started assisting and working/talking to other photographers they mentioned a few other names like Rankin, Mert & Marcus, Guy Bourdin, Paolo Roversi and Steven Meisel. I’d conducted a bit of research and found a few of them interesting but none that really inspired me.
From my early music video days I grew to love the work of David La Chapelle and whilst I really admire his work I began to see he was more of an Art director than a photographer (this is just my opinion and I still believe he produces some amazing imagery).
Miles Aldridge is another name I came across time and time again so I decided to dig deeper and I was totally in awe of his fashion work. Some have criticised his lack of diversity (in the women he chooses to shoot) but who gives them the right to criticise an artist? It’s a matter of choice and opinion and if you don’t like it, well tough.
I only want you to love me is an exhibition by Miles Aldridge currently on at Somerset House until today – 9th September. I really enjoyed this exhibition as I had the opportunity to see and understand exactly how Miles works and once I realised his pre production methods were similar to my own I was comforted by the fact I wasn’t alone in the way I approach photoshoots.
Aldridge sketches a lot of his ideas, he originally studied illustration so drawing remains a central process long before he picks up a camera. Using film means he has no way of knowing what his final image will look like until its processed. For this reason Aldridge takes Polaroids to be confident of the final image. The Polaroids are testament to the purity if the photographic vision.
I took extra comfort in seeing Miles’ sketches. I recently took to life drawing classes in an attempt to create perfectly drawn sketches of my shoots. Aldridge’s sketches aren’t perfectly well drawn, but you can see how the final image is almost exactly how Aldridge originally imagined and shot it.
My main attraction to the work of Miles Aldridge is how bright and vivid the colours are. Aldridge shoots on film (Kodachrome and Etchachrome) to help bring out the vivid colours. His influences occur a lot from Hollywood and the process used in films such as the Wizard of Oz, is something he likes to replicate by shooting on film.
Since visiting the exhibition I’ve developed so much more confidence in my own work (when freelancing on your own it’s easy to lose). Everything from my prep work, ideas and non conformity has inspired some new work and ideas.
Shooting on film is something I’d like to do more of in the future. Being a technical geek means I’ll always have a love for shooting digitally but shooting on film really does force you to think carefully about your final images.