Richard Avedon born in May 1923 in New York , was an American portrait and fashion photographer. His mother owned a apparel company and hence, encouraged Avedon’s love for art and fashion. As early as age 12, Avedon developed an interest in photography and so joined YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association), a photographers society. In order to explore things around him and to fulfill his desire of photography he used, a Kodak Box Brownie, family’s camera. His father was a disciplinary and his sister was although beautiful subject to photograph, she was suffering from schizophrenia. All these facets shaped Richard Avedon’s personal and professional life.
Avedon studied in Bedford Park in Bronx at DeWitt Clinton High School. There he worked with the school’s newspaper The Magpie from 1937 to 1940. He also became fond of poetry and in 1941 was given the title, Poet Laureate of New York High Schools. Then he graduated and joined Columbia University for poetry and philosophy but dropped out after a year. In 1942 with his Rolleiflex camera he started working for Merchant Marines, photographing crewmen. He studied photography from 1944 until 1950 with Alexey Brodovitch at New School for Social Research.
In 1944, Avedon started to work for a department store as a photographer for advertisements but was soon certified by Brodovitch to for Harper’s Bazaar. His work appeared in Junior Bazaar and then Bazaar.
In 1946, Richard Avedon opened his own personal studio and began offering services to popular magazines like Life and Vogue. Eventually, he became the head photographer at Harper’s Bazaar. Starting from 1950’s he also photographed for Look, Graphis and Life. In 1952, he became the photographer and Staff Editor of Theatre Arts Magazine.
Avedon’s fashion photography was special, he never delivered a emotionless subject through his images, instead his models expressed various emotions and that too in settings that were outdoor. This type of photography was revolutionary at that time. However, by the end of 1950’s he switched to studio photography.
From 1973, Avedon became the main photographer for Vogue and made many covers for the magazine. In 1980’s Gianni Versace’s collection, he took commercial photography assignments. He also photographed Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, jeans campaign. He worked with Brooke earlier as well in 1974 for Colgate advertisement. In addition, he has provided his services to twelve covers of American Vogue, Revlon’s campaign – Most Unforgettable Women, and Versace.
Richard Avedon also made famous portraits of The Beatles, the first in 1967 and the other in 1968. In 1973, he also shot Electric Light Orchestra. As he became well known, he photographed many celebrities at his studio, such as Ezra Pound, Andy Warhol, buster Keaton, Marilyn Monroe, Isak Dinesen and Marian Anderson.
Apart from fashion and commercial photography, he did social and political photography as well.
The Amon Carter Museum in Texas commissioned Avedon to photograph 125 people portraits in West America in 1979.
In 1982, he did playful photography for Christian Dior. In 1992, he became the first permanent photographer of The New Yorker. Later, he contributed to Egoïste from 1984 to 2000. In 1999, he shot music cover images for Addicted to You by Hikaru Utada.
Avedon did many exhibitions and has won many awards. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989 from Council of Fashion Designers of America. Avedon received the Master of Photography Award in 1993 by the Royal Photographic Society. In 1994, he got the Prix Nadar award for Evidence, his book. Moreover, he was given honorary degrees from Kenyon College, Parsons New School of Design and the Royal College of Art.