Bill Dobbins On Photography

About photographic history, style, equipment, techniques by pro photographer Bill Dobbins

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THE LATE, GREAT PETER LINDBERGH

Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh obituary from THE  GUARDIAN8

Peter Lindbergh at his exhibition From Fashion to Reality, at Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich, Germany, in 2017.
 Peter Lindbergh at his exhibition From Fashion to Reality, in Munich, Germany, in 2017. The photographer changed, radically, how fashion was shown in print. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

The portrait photographer Jane Bown used to grumble that nobody had faces any more, that people had become afraid to let the camera capture their true character in their visages. But the photographer Peter Lindbergh, who has died aged 74, could persuade even those whose image was their fortune – actors, musicians, fashion models – to show their real face to his lens, to reveal their identities and natural forms.

Lindbergh probably did not mean to change, radically, how fashion was shown in print, bringing it closer to the black-and-white photography he admired, Dorothea Lange’s portraits of the American poor, and photojournalism à la Henri Cartier-Bresson, but that’s what happened.

Not all at once, though. He began to work for US Vogue in the mid-1980s, and told its editorial director, Alex Liberman, that he didn’t like the way the women on its pages seemed to be there to display their husbands’ wealth. Liberman challenged him to show what he liked instead, and in 1988 Lindbergh did just that, shooting half a dozen models in nothing but white shirts and a happy mood messing about on Santa Monica beach, adding only a little light to the scene. The images were glorious, about how you wanted to feel more than how you desired to appear, but Liberman and the then editor, Grace Mirabella, consigned them unused to a drawer.

Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz & Christy Turlington, Santa Monica, 1988
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 In 1988 Lindbergh shot half a dozen models in nothing but white shirts and a happy mood messing about on Santa Monica beach. The images were rejected by US Vogue at the time, but rediscovered by the new editor, Anna Wintour, in 1990. Photograph: © Peter Lindbergh

Soon after, Anna Wintour succeeded Mirabella, found the rejects, and one cropped image made it into the magazine; she commissioned from Lindbergh her first cover, November 1988, of a model, Michaela Bercu, in couture jacket and cheap jeans slung low to expose a soft, bare belly. It broke all rules: Bercu’s hair was blown about, her eyes were almost closed and she was smiling, she wore marginal makeup and zilch jewellery. The worried printers rang Wintour to ask if there had been a mistake: was that the right pic?

It so was. When Liz Tilberis, editor of UK Vogue, asked Lindbergh to shoot the woman of the decade for a January 1990 cover, he replied there couldn’t be just the one. So he got a couple of the beach band back together for a shoot in downtown Manhattan, and added newcomers. Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, and Christy Turlington were shown as their forceful selves, all “quite undone … like being photographed right when you wake up in the morning”, according to Crawford.

The tight grouping has been imitated by many hen-party snaps since: Lindbergh caught early the new social phenomenon of all-female parties out for their own good time. His portraits of men are just as below-the-skin deep, but “women are more open and courageous, they have more guts and take many more risks”.

How he achieved the truth in his pictures explains his success. Several famous images, such as of Kate Moss no longer capitalising on her youth, came out of long conversations with the model, asking how she felt about life, about herself. “I look at women for who they really are,” he said, “perhaps this is what leads them to trust me.” Those women then willingly revealed characterful faces, aged hands, bodies that might be judged imperfect.

Kate Moss, Upstate New York, 1994
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 Kate Moss, Upstate New York, 1994. Lindbergh had long conversations with the model, asking how she felt about life, about herself. Photograph: © Peter Lindbergh

The third of his Pirelli calendars, in 2017 (following those in 1996 and 2002) approached the actors Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling with the same kind candour as the young Lupita Nyong’o. Lindbergh said: “This should be the responsibility of photographers today, to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”

He also had a novel eye for locations, often industrial or on the rough side of town (the designer Donna Karan recruited him early on for her campaigns because he saw New York afresh), and a narrative drive. His ad work for, among others, Dior, Armani, Prada and Calvin Klein told stories about places and people, not just products, as did his work for musicians such as Tina Turner and Beyoncé.

His pictures look like film stills, with action and time stopped, and he also directed several successful documentaries, including Inner Voices (1999), winner of best documentary at the Toronto film festival the following year, and a film about his friend the choreographer Pina Bausch (2002).

It had taken a long and wide apprenticeship to life as well as art for Lindbergh to establish himself. He was born Peter Brodbeck in Leszno, a Polish city then annexed to Nazi Germany, and his German family fled west near the end of the war, settling in the industrial landscape of Duisburg. Schooling was minimal: he left at 14 and worked as a window-dresser in a local store chain. He later loved arranging backgrounds for shoots, layering found objects and drapes with all technical details showing.

The actor Debbie Lee Carrington and model Helena Christensen shot in El Mirage, California, 1990.
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 The actor Debbie Lee Carrington and model Helena Christensen shot in El Mirage, California, 1990, by Peter Lindbergh. Many of his images looked like film stills. Photograph: © Peter Lindbergh

He had a clear artistic gift and pursued it, moving to Lucerne, then to Berlin, where he took classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, then Arles, the chosen city of his favourite painter, Van Gogh; he hitchhiked around Spain and Morocco.

Returning to Germany, to study art at the Kunsthochschule in Krefeld, he had showed in galleries before discovering a delight in photography when taking pictures of his brother’s children. He found a job as assistant to the photographer Hans Lux, then opened his own studio in Düsseldorf in 1973, during which time he changed his name to Lindbergh, after finding there was another photographer named Brodbeck. In 1978 he began to work for Stern, the German equivalent of Life and Paris-Match, the magazines whose pictures had shaped his aesthetic, and joined other Stern photographers, including Helmut Newton, in the international glossies, establishing his base in Paris.

Charlotte Rampling photographed in London, 2016, by Peter Lindbergh for the 2017 Pirelli calendar.
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 Charlotte Rampling photographed in London, 2016, by Peter Lindbergh for the 2017 Pirelli calendar. Photograph: © Peter Lindbergh

Lindbergh’s goodbye was the current cover of UK Vogue, guest-edited by the Duchess of Sussex: portraits of 15 women, among them the activist Greta Thunberg; the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern captured by video link (although Lindbergh always preferred actual film to digital work); and original muse Turlington. All raw, and all different.

Lindbergh’s first marriage to Astrid ended in divorce. He is survived by the photographer Petra Sedlaczek, whom he married in 2002, and by four sons, Benjamin, Jérémy, Simon and Joseph.

 Peter Lindbergh, photographer, born 23 November 1944; died 3 September 2019

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Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh

Age Defying Beauty

Books

9 results | Top

T-Time

6 results | Top

Haute Couture Meets Times Square

Haute Couture Meets Times Square

Dior by Peter Lindbergh

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Peter Lindbergh (1944-2019)

Peter Lindbergh in Berlin

Peter Lindbergh in Berlin

The photographer signs his TASCHEN books

Peter Lindbergh in Paris

Peter Lindbergh in Paris

The photographer signs A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Peter Lindbergh in Beverly Hills

Peter Lindbergh in Beverly Hills

TASCHEN celebrates the master of fashion photography

Peter Lindbergh in conversation

Peter Lindbergh in conversation

The photographer talks beauty and the photoshop beast

Events

4 results | Top

Exhibition
February 05 – June 01, 2020

Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories

Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Exhibition
June 20 – November 01, 2020

Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Exhibition
December 04, 2020 – March 07, 2021

Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories

Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt
Exhibition
March – May 2021

Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories

Madre, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples

Peter Lindbergh

The late photographer Peter Lindbergh was the first to photograph the original supermodels, the first to shoot a PirelliCalendar three times, and the first ever to get behind a camera for the cover of Anna Wintour’s U.S. Vogue. It is these extraordinary achievements that kept him at the very top of the international fashion and celebrity world throughout his career. But beyond this dazzling list of firsts, Lindbergh is also known for having created compelling narratives of enduring beauty. In trademark monochrome, his penetrating portraits celebrate beauty in myriad guises, and, particularly, across time and age.

Lindbergh began his career as a window dresser for the Karstadt and Horten department stores in Duisburg. After traveling and studying at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts he joined the Stern magazine family along with photographers Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer. Lindbergh’s work is characterized by a dark cinematic quality and gritty realism and was influenced by street photographers and photojournalists like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand. His refusal to subscribe to beauty standards, including the excessive retouching and obsessive perfection enforced in the fashion industry, set him apart from his peers.

TASCHEN’s books on Peter Lindbergh survey his vast body of work and provide a unique window to his biography. The books include editorials, covers, and portraits from magazines like The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar U.S., Wall Street Journal Magazine, The Face, Visionaire, Interview, and W. Of course, any publication on Lindbergh is not complete without his images of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington, which heralded a new age of beauty, fashion, and womanhood.

Peter Lindbergh

Age Defying Beauty

Books

9 results | Top

T-Time

6 results | Top

Haute Couture Meets Times Square

Haute Couture Meets Times Square

Dior by Peter Lindbergh

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Peter Lindbergh (1944-2019)

Peter Lindbergh in Berlin

Peter Lindbergh in Berlin

The photographer signs his TASCHEN books

Peter Lindbergh in Paris

Peter Lindbergh in Paris

The photographer signs A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Peter Lindbergh in Beverly Hills

Peter Lindbergh in Beverly Hills

TASCHEN celebrates the master of fashion photography

Peter Lindbergh in conversation
Madre, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples
Peter Lindbergh

The late photographer Peter Lindbergh was the first to photograph the original supermodels, the first to shoot a PirelliCalendar three times, and the first ever to get behind a camera for the cover of Anna Wintour’s U.S. Vogue. It is these extraordinary achievements that kept him at the very top of the international fashion and celebrity world throughout his career. But beyond this dazzling list of firsts, Lindbergh is also known for having created compelling narratives of enduring beauty. In trademark monochrome, his penetrating portraits celebrate beauty in myriad guises, and, particularly, across time and age.

Lindbergh began his career as a window dresser for the Karstadt and Horten department stores in Duisburg. After traveling and studying at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts he joined the Stern magazine family along with photographers Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer. Lindbergh’s work is characterized by a dark cinematic quality and gritty realism and was influenced by street photographers and photojournalists like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand. His refusal to subscribe to beauty standards, including the excessive retouching and obsessive perfection enforced in the fashion industry, set him apart from his peers.

TASCHEN’s books on Peter Lindbergh survey his vast body of work and provide a unique window to his biography. The books include editorials, covers, and portraits from magazines like The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar U.S., Wall Street Journal Magazine, The Face, Visionaire, Interview, and W. Of course, any publication on Lindbergh is not complete without his images of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington, which heralded a new age of beauty, fashion, and womanhood.

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