What Camera Did Richard Avedon Use?

by Buffalo Bob on September 7, 2014

Photographer: Richard Avedon

Specialty: Fashion, Portraiture, Advertising

Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Rolleiflex, Deardorff, Sinar

Other Products Used: Umbrellas, beauty dishes, Elinchrom strobes

Richard Avedon is one of the two best fashion and portrait photographers in history. (in each category, it’s a toss-up with Irving Penn)

He is legendary for his incredible fashion editorials for publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, gorgeous advertising campaigns for brands like Versace, Christian Dior, and Revlon, as well as his stark portraiture, perhaps best illustrated by In the American West.

So what cameras did Richard Avedon use?

He is very well-known for using a Rolleiflex medium format twin-lens reflect camera for some of his portraiture and fashion work.

But much of Avedon’s iconic fashion and portraiture work was done with an 8×10 view camera with lenses in the 300 – 360mm range. He appeared to favor a Deardorff for field work, like for In the American West.

However, Avedon also used a Sinar, according to American Photo. One famous example of the Sinar’s use was in his legendary 1992 fashion editorial Portfolio: In Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Comfort, which was published in The New Yorker. That was shot with a Sinar 8×10, a 360mm lens, and Kodak Ektachrome 64.

You can see Avedon rocking the 8×10″ at the 1:08 mark of this behind-the-scenes video from the 1997 Pirelli calendar:

He used Kodak Plus-X and Tri-X as his black & white films, and Kodak Ektachrome for color.

Much of his later work was lit with 2,000 watt-second Elinchrom packs, and for modifiers, he often used plain-old umbrellas. It was a common practice for him to wander the studio with a Rolleiflex while an assistant roved alongside with a strobe.

However, in this video, you can see a beauty dish at 0:28 and an octa softbox at 0:45.

So do you want the Richard Avedon look?

I’d start with one of his books like Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000, which will not only be a great source of education and inspiration, but a beautiful coffee table book.

Equipment-wide, I’d keep it very simple for now. Assuming you have a camera, start with a simple roll of white background paper, and focus on expression. Avedon’s lighting was very simple and much of it can be emulated with a simple umbrella: his work was all about energy and emotion.

{ 0 comments }

Q&A: Rangefinder vs. SLR for Street Photography

by Buffalo Bob on September 4, 2014

Hi! So I’m a 15 year old teen beginner photographer and I’m thinking of buying my first film camera. I’m quite confused on which one to get a rangefinder or a SLR camera?

Also which models would you recommend?

And which would be the best for street and portrait photography. Thank you! Love your website!

-Bishwa

Bishwa, the ideal choice for both street and portrait photography would be a rangefinder, such as a Leica.

However, these cameras and their lenses are extremely expensive.

What I would recommend is going on Craig’s List or eBay and buying an inexpensive Nikon or Canon film 35mm SLR kit to get started on. People practically give them away) and will help you learn to shoot on film as you figure out what kind of camera is best for you. Just look for a basic model with a 50mm lens — you should be able to find something for less than $100.

For film, I would go with Kodak Portra 400.

It’s a gorgeous color film that works well in most types of light, and which looks beautiful when scanned and converted to black & white.

And if you want to go straight black & white, Kodak Tri-X is a classic for good reason.

{ 0 comments }

Q&A: 35mm Film Look on a Digital SLR

May 8, 2013

I took this question from the Facebook page: Any thoughts on how to achieve that 35mm film look on a Canon Rebel t3i? I have a 55mm nikkor ais 2.8-macro mounted on it for portraits. -Joao Hi Joao. The best way to get a 35mm film look is to shoot 35mm film. I’m not sure [...]

Read the full article →

Q&A: Should I Upgrade From the Nikon D7000 to D800?

May 7, 2013

I’ve decided to initiate a new Q&A feature on this blog since I get so many reader questions regarding gear. Here’s one I pulled from the comments on another post: I have a nikon D7000 and am trying to determine whether or not to sell my DX equipment and jump into the full frame game [...]

Read the full article →

Zack Arias Q&A: 100 Questions and Answers Book

May 3, 2013

Just an FYI — Atlanta-based commercial and editorial photographer Zack Arias is releasing a book of questions and answers based upon his wildly popular Tumblr photography Q&A blog. Zack is best known for delivering plain English, straight-from-the-gut explanations of important issues in photography ranging from business to lighting to artistic development, so this book should [...]

Read the full article →

What Camera and Lights Does Platon Use?

April 25, 2013

Photographer: Platon (full name: Platon Antoniou) Specialty: Editorial and Commercial Portraiture Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Hasselblad Other Products Used: Profoto lights, umbrellas, Kodak & Fuji color negative film If you’re reading this, then you definitely know who Platon is. But I’ll say it anyway: he is one of today’s greatest living portrait photographers, renowned for his [...]

Read the full article →

What Camera Did Dean Collins Use?

October 13, 2012

Photographer: Dean Collins Specialty: Commercial/Editorial Photography Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Sinar, Hasselblad, Nikon Other Products Used: Broncolor Lighting, P42 panels, scrims, Minolta Meters, Kodak films Dean Collins, who unfortunately died of cancer in 2005, is one of the greatest lighting teachers and commercial photographers in history. Dean’s real genius was in displaying how basic photographic concepts [...]

Read the full article →

What Camera Does Martin Schoeller Use

September 18, 2012

Photographer: Martin Schoeller Specialty: Editorial Portrait/Commercial Photography Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Mamiya, Sinar Other Products Used: Kodak films, Kino Flo lighting ; Martin Schoeller is by far and away one of the greatest portrait photographers of our time, with regular commissions from top media outlets like Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, GQ, and Time. He’s also an [...]

Read the full article →

What Camera Did Herb Ritts Use?

April 2, 2012

Photographer: Herb Ritts Specialty: Fashion, Portraits, Celebrity, Music Videos, Commercials Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Mamiya, Nikon Other Products Used: Scrims, Reflectors, Foam Core (guessing) Check out these videos of Herb’s incredible work: Herb Ritts (1952-2002) is one of the greatest fashion photographers in history with an illustrious run of shooting fashion editorials, ad campaigns, and portraits for the likes of [...]

Read the full article →

What Camera Does Jeremy Cowart Use?

April 2, 2012

Photographer: Jeremy Cowart Specialty: Portraits, Celebrity, Music, Advertising Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Canon, Hasselblad Other Products Used: Profoto lights, Gridded Beauty Dish, Elinchrom modifiers, Fuji XPro-1, Adobe Photoshop, Capture One Watch an incredible interview with Jeremy here: Jeremy Cowart is one of the hottest portait photographers in the business today, and is world-renowned for his work with celebrities ranging from [...]

Read the full article →