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Photos on the pages of glossy magazines that can be seen today are similar to each other. They are not distinguished by the complexity of the frame. Other were the work of fashion photographer Guy Bourdin: extraordinary, breaking stereotypes, innovative. Each shot evokes a series of emotions in the soul of the audience, including a lack of understanding of what is happening. Perhaps this is the secret of their immortality. To understand or not to understand … but it is really difficult to take your eyes off them.

Despite the fact that the camera Guy Bourdain picked up quite late, his work is known not only in narrow circles of professionals, but also among admirers of the art of photography.

Guy Bourdin’s personality formation and the advent of photography

Guy Bourdin was born in the capital of France. It happened on December 2, 1928. At the time of the birth of the child, his biological father was barely 18 years old. Very quickly, young parents realized that they were not ready to build a family and divorced. Mother abandoned a one-year-old child. This, according to many psychologists, in the future affected his work and relationship with women. He did not stand on ceremony with models who later recalled with horror about filming in cold studios and harsh working conditions.

Guy did not stay in the orphanage. He was adopted by Maurice Desiree Bourdain, from whom he received the surname. In childhood, the boy did not think about the career of a photographer. He was fascinated by cycling. At the age of 18, the young man took up painting seriously. For some time he even intended to devote his life to this craft. However, everything changed the military service, which he held in Dakar (1948-1949). Bourdain was identified as an air force, and then a photograph appeared in his life.

Upon returning home, Bourdain got a job as a seller of photographic equipment. In parallel, he worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant and saved up money for professional equipment for photography. Also, before joining the fashion industry, Guy Bourdin managed to work as a courier at the US Embassy. All the time he was accompanied by painting. At the same time, he improved his mastery of photography – he studied independently, at the work of famous masters of various genres.

The key moment in Guy’s life was his acquaintance with Man Ray, whose work provoked a contradictory attitude among people. Some admired his surreal works, while others did not see any value in them. Bourdin belonged to the first category of people, and Ray began to support the young photographer. Soon Bourdin began to present his work at general exhibitions, and later a well-known patron helped organize a personal one. Bourdin’s talent was noticed by fashion editors, and a career went up rapidly.

Professional Guy Bourdin

Work in the fashion world attracted Bourdain, and he accepted the offer from the editors of Vogue. This collaboration lasted about 40 years. At the same time, the photographer shot advertising campaigns for such fashion brands as Charles Jourdan, Chanel, Versace, Bloomingdale’s, etc. In addition to Vogue, he collaborated with the famous publisher Harper’s Bazaar.

The photographer did not immediately develop his extraordinary style. At first, his work was close to the standards established at that time. However, with each new photo shoot, Guy Bourdin pushed the limits of what was permitted. Models have always noticed that working with Guy, who was equally demanding of himself and others, was incredibly difficult, but the end result was always amazing.

The fashion photographer, who created mostly promotional images, was able to draw the attention of the viewer not to attractive models, but to the product being sold. Moreover, each picture was perceived not as a separate episode from life, but as a whole story in which there is a plot and subtext.

Publishers who collaborated with Guy gave him complete freedom, and he took advantage of this, embodying the most daring ideas. In addition to glamorous pictures in his collection you can find rude and, in some places, cruel photos.

The success of Bourdin is due not only to a natural gift and a special vision of the world, but also to a lack of desire for popularity. For him, only the shooting process was important. Exhibitions and the publication of books, participation in photo contests and prestigious awards have never attracted Guy. Guy Bourdin has many followers. Some of them were able to realize their creative potential, and became famous photographers (Mert Alas, Nick Knight, etc.). Bourdin completely changed the concept of female beauty and a glossy photo. He was deservedly recognized as an outstanding fashion photographer of the 20th century.

An extraordinary and discussed fashion master died in 1981. Both professionals and amateur photographers are still ambivalent about the works of the master, who today occupy an honorable place in many photo exhibitions.

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