8 Week Portrait Class - Sieff

This is part 6 in an 8 part series about my discoveries, inspiration and creations with Don Giannatti’s 8 Week Portrait Class.

Jeanloup Sieff, known as one of the 'great international photographic talents of the last half-century’, began shooting fashion photography in 1956 and joined the Magnum agency in 1958. He was prolific in a broad range of photographic fields, including art, fashion, portraiture, nudes, landscape and photo journalism. He developed a signature style favouring black and white. The dramatic use of shadow and tone is clearly evident in his work. The importance of skin is noticeable in his portraits as is surfaces in his landscapes.

Sieff often used a wide angle lens. He stated he was claustrophobic and discovered a kind of view with a wide angle lens that made him breathe better. He says, "You can change your focal length as you change cars, to air out your head, to see things differently. Little by little, you adapt to what the technique imposes on you, at first it’s the technique that is in charge, then you become stronger and take over.” If you would like to discover more about Sieff, his process and thoughts, I highly recommend reading this interview. Thanks to Irene Liebler for discovering this gem.

This moment has been, it has been precious, I felt it as precious and I made this image. This is what we are trying to say.
— Jeanloup Sieff, Paris, June 1987

My inspiration from Sieff was his use of a wide angle lens and also his studio portraiture. One of his many subjects were dancers and ironically I was lucky enough to have an international dancer, Daisy, visit my studio this week just in time for the Sieff shoot. Daisy was just amazing to work with. We had so much fun collaborating on ideas and creating these beautiful images. Thank you so much to Daisy, Emilie and Jane, just a brilliant team effort girls!! Stay tuned for a future blog post with more images from this shoot …