Friday, January 8, 2010

Mr. John French

John French revolutionized fashion photography, when it came to newspapers that is, by perfecting the lighting of his models. Back in the 1950s, French knew the problems newspapers were having printing fashion photography; the photos wouldn't reproduce well. Because of this, fashion editors relied on sketches and drawings to promote the moment's latest. French solved this problem by lighting his subjects in such a way that the resulting product looked sharp and clear in newsprint. Jean Dawnay, one of his models described it like this: "I was standing on white paper and there was more behind me and in front. I was sort of in a white box....None of the big studio lights were directed on to me; instead they were aimed at the white paper, so I stood in reflected light." Now, fashion editors didn't have to rely on sketches anymore, we could see the real thing.

And why this lesson in John French? Well, I could post a zillion examples of his work (I bet TJB has a lovely cornucopia of John's work scattered throughout SSUWAT).....and you'd probably recognize most if not all the fabulousness he snapped. Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Barbara Goalens, Enid name a few. But I mention John French so that I may post two photos of Marla Scarafia.

The first photo, the before photo is Marla when she initially arrived at his studio. Not an unattractive girl, but nothing about her face says, "look at me." It's this second photograph, the after shot, post modification by Mr. French and his minions (don't know who might have been there, but David Bailey & Nicky Haslam both got their starts via John) that destroys me. It did the first time I saw it and it continues to knock me out, every time I see it. Though I could fill notebooks with names of women I think gorgeous, I think this photo of Marla is IT....for me.

A normadesmond Production


  1. **Note to self. Schedule sitting with John French.**

  2. WOW - That is what "before and after" is all about. It's like they found hidden personality!