Richard Avedon – The White Background

 All images copyright Richard Avedon from In The American West

Avedon is a big name in our house right now!

Not only because Richard Avedon has  been one of the photographers I have always and still admire but it is the name of our little kitten. I named him Avedon because I loved the sound of Richard’s name and I am hoping some of his talent will rub off each time I call my kitten.. Kind of a like a million mantra’s a day.

I loved Avedon (the photographers) early fashion work in Paris and adore his portraits on a simple white background. His white background became his trademark. Avedon photographed everybody on it from politicians to actresses, dancers to farmworkers and I particularly adored his series called In The American West.

Avedon spent numerous summers driving around the West of America shooting real people and devoted as he was to capturing great pics he took his famous white background with him.

He placed the background in the shade and captured the workers and locals as they were in that moment on his large format camera. I had the great fortune to see this exhibition at the Jeu de Paume and have since purchased In The American West and adore his powerful portraits of ‘real’ Americans.

I often ponder whether these portraits would have been as strong if he had photographed them in their environment? The black and white combo with the white background allows the subject to speak to you.

What are you thoughts on a simple background? Years ago I was frightened by a white background but now I love it..

Keep it simple



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10 Responses to Richard Avedon – The White Background

  1. also a fan of Avedon
    if I were not so extremely allergic to cats I might follow your example:)
    white background is for photographers like you who know what they are doing, makes the picture, the message, the whole thing much stronger
    una bella giornata, cara

  2. Melissa G says:

    I love how clean a white background is. I discovered this quite by accident when taking photos of Gwen. She was twirling in the white side of a curtain. The light from outside just bounced and all you could see was Gwen. It looked so ‘studio’ and there was nothing in the background to distract from the object of the portraiture.

  3. Anya Adores says:

    I love him. Saw his exhibition in Louisiana in Denmark a few years back – and these were some of the images. I agree with the white background ,would these images have been the same without. No doubt they would have been great anyways, but the white is fab. Genius work and genius cat name :) Happy Tuesday Carla,

  4. jann says:

    I adore Avedon’s white background, Carla. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. Amazingly stark & strong photos!!

  5. Jean Sacque says:

    I love Avedon’s photographs. I remember when I was studying photography, our teacher told us about him and his famous white background. I immediately fell in love with his style of work, his portraits and fashion work as well. He really was one of the Masters of our art!

  6. Natalie says:

    Avedon is one of the greatest. Each and every his image is IT, THE IMAGE. I have his book “Avedon Fashion 1944-2000″ on my desk. Never tired to go through pages again and again.
    He masterfully created his very special world populated with ordinary/extraordinary people.

  7. Tamera says:

    I love that series too. I loved his thought process behind it, his technique, and his results. And like you, I think pretty much everything Avedon ever shot was genius.

  8. t. becque says:

    I agree, love his work. Love the simplicity. Learning to work with white :)

  9. I can imagine the stir he made setting up his white background, selecting people to capture in his own unique way. What was it that drew him to each soul I wonder.

    These are such classic images and I have seen them many times in books but never the actual prints.

    I think your kitten is perfectly named x

  10. Jenny says:

    Nice post which It named him Avedon because I loved the sound of Richard’s name and I am hoping some of his talent will rub off each time I call my kitten. Kind of a like a million mantra’s a day.Thanks a lot for posting.

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