Fashion photography has always been a grey area for me, often was I caught off guard during my New York days, routinely would I end up looking like a wally by how little I knew. Though eventually I began to pick up names and one of those names was Sir Norman Parkinson, but it was not until I saw his own personal style did I become such a fan.
Often cited as one of the original masters of modern fashion photography, it would only seem right that to celebrate with an exhibition celebrating the centenary since his birth. The National Theatre, are the driving force behind this retrospective and they have pulled together a pretty captivating number of images. It spans from his early forays in the 1930s, until his death in 1990 working as a freelance photographers exploring his use of exotic locations and the weirdest props imaginable.
My attraction to Parkinson’s style throughout his work stems certainly from the core of his imaginative, unconventional and unique approach. As he stormed into the game he shook the dust off techniques of old, laying the guidelines with memorable quotes like ‘Any photographer who surrounds himself with a studio is doomed,’
The National Theatre does a great job in presenting a fair and evenly weighted show, as there is not too many photographs hailing from one genre over another. I understand as a portrait photographer Parkinson should be famed forever, his natural ability at capturing many of the greatest icons of the 20th century is phenomenal. Some of the best shots include the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Wenda Parkinson, Ava Gardener, Vivien Leigh, Apollonia van Ravenstein, Raquel Welch, Iman & Jerry Hall.
Though again I was a sucker for shots of in and around New York as they had me pining for a city I still very much miss. I remember looking at the photographs of the Harlem Motorcycle gang and just being completely blown away. His natural ability to capture the essence of style shows you how he became one of the most renowned and innovative figures in British fashion photography. They evidently back up his credentials showing why he worked 55 years for publications in both Britain and America, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Queen and Town & Country.
This show runs till the 12th May and is free, so it could be the perfect location for any whistle-stop tours down on the Southbank, perfect for those sunny days ahead.