Sunday, 13 May 2012

Snowdon Blue

In last week's Observer Eva Wiseman interviewed Lord Snowdon about his trick of getting his photographic subjects to wear a blue shirt if a session wasn't going to plan. Snowdon says "The blue shirt is anonymous and yet a kind of uniform. It's a simple backdrop that leaves us to focus on the sitter's face without distraction".
Sixty of Snowdon's portraits have now been presented in a book, published by the Swedish fashion company Acne Studios, called Snowdon Blue. To coincide with the book and the exhibition of the portraits in the Acne Studio's store in Dover Street, London, the clothing company have designed a limited edition of blue shirts.
The portrait of David Bowie is extraordinary, but I think portraits of him always are, I find his eyes disturbing and compelling at the same time.
By coincidence I picked up the COS Spring & Summer magazine yesterday, inside is a series of portraits by Anuschka Blommers & Niels Schumm of students from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, all wearing blue COS garments. Studying these portraits made me realise how right Snowdon's observation was, the cool calmness of the blue allows the person to come to the fore. In both sets of photographs, the sitters are white, it would be interesting to see if a blue shirt has the same effect with Asian and black skin.   

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