Having recently acquired several books by Patrick Demarchelier, we will be reviewing the others presently. “Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs” was the first to arrive and is graced on its cover by a nude leggy model, dangling by her hands from a long branch of a tree with the sea and sky of the West Indies as background.
An absolutely stunning image which is again repeated on plate 10 inside.
“Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs” contains over 80 black and white plates, with no text or page numberings save at the rear of the book where 82 thumbnails provide sparely worded captioning for the plates.
This allows one to view images without the distraction of words.
The images speak.
Desiring added context, one may thumb to the back and view the bit of detail there … Date, Location, and Image Title or Name of Subject.
“Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs” is 13 x 10 x 0.75 inches in size with 144 pages.
Most images cover an entire page. Some a bit more or less, a few two page spreads and a smattering of smaller vignettes, like the four up images of Robert DeNiro and of Robin Williams.
The period is mostly 1980’s and 1990’s.
Which celebrities? Think of the times, Elton John, Princess Diana, Meg Ryan, Lenny Kravitz, etc. Demarchelier is photographer to the A and A plus plus listers.
Why did I jump into Demarchelier?
Bruce Smith, who wrote the excellent how to book “Fashion Photography, A complete guide to the tools and techniques of the trade“, ( to see review click here ) listed Demarchelier as one of the great fashion photographers.
This, shortly after Charles Lucima, a fashion photographer profiled on GlamourPhotography.co called Demarchelier “A God,” ( to see profile click here ).
So, I had to see for myself, this Demarchelier.
Interestingly, Glenn O’Brien’s foreword includes the William Blake quote, “Prayer is the study of art.”
“… admiring something beautiful … if it is truly beautiful … does parkate of divinity … Ancient religions were clearly devoted to beauty … Christianity had its origins in beauty … a walk through the right catherdral … will make most souls come to their senses …
Some people still argue about whether photography is an art, … more interesting to discuss whether it is a religion … Photography has altered the way people believe, … with ideas of the absolute and models of perfection … It records with absolute fidelity the beauties of our times.”
Well, if an eye witness is the least reliable and most influential form of evidence, a photo is certainly a lie, and lacks “fidelity” in terms of always being a strictly limited and polished facet of a much larger truth.
On the other hand, if beauty itself is fidelity, then Demarchelier knows well how to hit the mark.
Even in his images were today we would not treat the image as absolutely beautiful, where for example he may have created an amputated look of a finger, or in the case of the image of Madonna here, her eyes are out of focus…. Yet the power of the focus on her hand and the motion of the rest of the image, gives a context which keeps the image powerful and sublime.
Demarchelier is a master of light who knows how and when to bend rules like these.
And, these images, he did in the days of film.
Many stunningly beautiful images to enjoy are here.
Beyond this pure beauty is what may learned by careful observation of Demarchelier’s light and composition.
Many of these images provide incredible lessons in light, texture, form and context.
An example black and white image perfection?
How about this West Indies beach shot of the very Brigitte Bardot looking Claudia Schiffer?
To study light, or to view incredibly beautiful images, to view some exceptional portraits or nudes, “Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs” is an excellent choice.