Irving Penn was one of the most iconic photographers of the 20th century, best known for his fashion photography, portraiture and still life. Among his best known works is the so-called corner style portraits, where he set his celebrity subjects against a simple grey v-flat. This plain backdrop has many uses and applications for studio photography today, but Penn was notable for using it as a creative element of this notable series.
In the video above by Alex Kilbee of The Photographic Eye, we learn the story of how Irving Penn’s iconic style came to be while he was shooting a series for Vogue magazine. To give us a more insightful perspective about this body of work and Penn himself, Kilbee also includes some details about the photographer’s creative mindset at the time. He also breaks down the important details of this style, from the simplicity of the studio setup, to the lighting and the look that Penn was able to achieve.
Lastly, Kilbee also added some interesting anecdotes about how Penn’s celebrity sitters reacted to this setup, particularly Georgia O’Keeffe and Marlene Dietrich.