Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sir Norman Parkinson (1913-1990)



You know you've made it when you are the subject of a Google doodle and today the search engine celebrates the 100th anniversary of one of Britain's most celebrated photographers.

Parkinson's book 'Sisters Under The Skin' has sat on my bookshelves for more than thirty five years now, possibly one of the first books I purchased when I became employed full time and could afford such luxuries. His fashion photography remains a constant inspiration and whether he was photographing royalty (the marriage of Mark and Anne), actresses (his street shots of Garbo are pure paparazzi), the rich (Princess Caroline of Monaco) or the famous (Miss Piggy) the one thing that shines through all his photographs is how relaxed the subjects look, surely a sign of a great photographer. The book consists entirely of portraits but each one is different, different poses, lighting, locations, connection with the camera and each one is an inspiration.

My favourite photograph in the book is of Sophia Loren and it is accompanied by a paragraph or two written by Barry Norman who says that should a visitor from Mars ever ask him to show him somebody who represented total rich, ripe femininity (this was the 1970's people) he would direct them immediately to Sophia Loren. The photograph of the actress who once claimed that she owed everything to spaghetti isn't available on the Interweb but another of Parkinson's photographs of her is and it reflects his art and her beauty.


I know that the above photograph was taken around 1974 when Loren was filming a television series in the U.K. It looks to me if it was taken shooting through a window, it is clearly backlit and this style of photography has undergone something of a renaissance over the past decade to such an extent that it has become almost a cliché, but it's worth remembering that forty years ago the style was new and fresh and imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery.

11 comments:

Span Ows said...

"total rich, ripe femininity"

What a turn of phrase! I hazard a bet his photo of SL isn't among my favourites of her.

Paul said...

I suspect your favourite comes from a certain film she starred in with Anthony Quinn!

Span Ows said...

There's a few! In fact there's a very 'decent' one of her in a black dress from Black orchid that also had Anthony Quinn.

Suffice to say Sophia in her heyday mixed with Penelope Cruz and and a touch of Eva Mendez...

...ohhhh I have to lie down.

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