Thanks to Urbaanite and the Frist Center for Visual Arts, I was one of several women who attended the Bloggers’ Night Out preview of the Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibit at the Frist. Let’s just start by saying it was the perfect event to bring all of us together.
While all bloggers, we have a mix of focus areas: some of us are lifestyle bloggers, others have more of an emphasis on fashion, but one major thing our blogs have in common is telling stories through photography. The exhibit offered a very beautiful example of how to convey a message and tell a story visually. As foreshadowed by the title, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, the exhibit exemplifies how photographs can go beyond the mere beauty of the subject and tell a much deeper, much more meaningful story.
The Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibit, a retrospective of Penn’s work, begins with his latest work and ends with his earlier work. From beginning to end, his photos are alluring, riveting, artistic, and go beyond just beautiful pictures. His work tells the story of models, musicians, and actors. It also tells the story of life and culture through his eyes, including fashion photography, his travels all over the world, and the people he met along the way.
Penn, one of the most renowned fashion, portrait, and still life photographers (most notably behind many photos of Vogue), had a background in art and it shows in his photos. In my opinion, the incorporation of art adds depth to the photography: from the placement of the subjects, to the angle and closeness of the camera, down to the lighting. Penn had the innate ability to capture the essence of his subject in a meaningful way and grab the audience’s attention.
As a blogger (which includes part-time photographer, part-time model, part-time writer, and part-time story teller) not only do I try to convey a message through words, I often use photographs alone to tell a story. Viewing the exhibit and seeing the art of photography through his lens was a remarkable way to explore the interplay of fashion, life, art, and storytelling. In the age of digital and social media where photographs have become a part of daily life, it was a gentle reminder of how beautiful the art of photography can be and how photography can go beyond the surface past the beauty of the subject.
Photos provided by Life on Forty West Photography
Please leave your thoughts on the blog post and the Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibit below.