Some photo editors need a medal…along with their editor in chief. Not a one time award for best editing. No. Something bigger, brighter and more reflective of their achievement. Jody Quon, Director of Photography for the wonderful New York Magazine should be the first recipient. Not only the photography in every issue is always amazing, refreshing, surprising and captivating, but the Fashion Issue that just hit the stands this week surpasses everything. The portraits are dead on, the stock is carefully chosen, but the real treat is a 24 pages photo essay by Marcus Bleasdale on the fall fashion shows in Paris.
Yes, 24 pages, mostly double page spread, of pure, unaltered, hardly captioned photography. No article, no explanation, just pure photography. This is such a rare and powerful event in magazine publishing, it should be
noted screamed about. When all other magazines, worldwide, are using less and less photography, in what they beleive is a healthy way to cut costs, New York Magazine goes entirely the other way and puts more.
It is not the first time a magazine hires a war/documentary photographer to shoot fashion. It has been done before, hoping to shed a different vision on the already over-photographed catwalks. Most of the time, the result is very bad. The reason : The photographers couldn’t care less about what they are seeing and you can see it. They would much prefer to be paid to go back on the battlefield, any battlefield.
Marcus Bleasdale, recent new member of VII photo agency and mostly known for his powerful and multiple award winning work on the horrible conditions of gold mining in Congo, was up to now, mostly seen in Time or Newsweek magazine, if hardly at all. He would take his work and expose it everywhere it could make a difference (See article here). If you know the man, he is not the type you will see at parties, movie premieres and or at fashion shows. That is a world that he avoids at all cost.
Liu Wen at the Alexander McQueen show. (Photo: Marcus Bleasdale)
So, seeing his photographs of runways and backstage is a shock. I had to read his credit three or four times before I could convince myself that this was the same man who has been living in mud, contracting the worse horrible diseases, hiding from corporate-hired hit man, in order to expose the realities of Africa.
The New York Magazine spread is Marcus all right: It is clearly judgmental, sometimes violent in its opinion. Some models look like criminals just arrested for a crime they know they are guilty off and the whole atmosphere reeks of decadence. Like a party that has been going on too long. You see and feel that Marcus doesn’t like this crowd. There is also a strong sense of solitude, probably wanted by Marcus but accentuated by the editing of Jody.
So, for all those who complain and whine about the death of the photo essay in the American magazine landscape, go out and purchase one, or ten copies of this week’s New York Magazine. Not only you will love it, but you will also send a clear signal that this is what we all want to see more off. Furthermore, the images do not seem to be online, so if you want to experience them, you better get off that couch.
Thank you Marcus Bleasdale, Thank you Jody Quon, Thank you Adam Moss ( That is the Editor in Chief, in case you didn’t know)