“If you want to make good photographs, a camera has to second nature to you. Devoting too much attention to technical decisions can interfere with your creative process.” -Robert Farber

Robert Farber, a painter with a camera

On Photography: Robert Farber, 1944-PresentRobert Farmer was born on Leap Day, February 29, 1944. He always wanted to be a painter. He would go to museums and look at paintings there and in books. He studied them for himself. He never intended to become a photographer and he has never gone to school for it.

In an interview on klassikmagazine.com, he said, “I started in photography because of my interest in painting. I never assisted which is the normal channel of becoming a professional.” He continued saying, “and I never went to school for photography. My interest has always been in painting. The style of my work has been defined as romantic, moody, painterly and sensual … showing respect for women.”

Robert Farber’s inspirations

The interview continues with Farber saying “I’m most inspired by going to museums, galleries, looking through magazines, books, and films, especially old classical movies. I also find visual inspiration from listening to music.”

Talking about the works of painters, he says “I get great inspiration from seeing the work of great painters. American painters like Edward Hopper or the Flemish school. The Dutch school of painting with their directional light or the softness and pastel colors of the impressionistic school.”

Farber has translated those inspirations into his photographic advertising and art. The two forms ultimately blended so one could not be separated from the other.

Nudes in advertising

In the 1970s, Farber created advertising campaigns — nationally and internationally — for major and very conservative companies that featured nudes. His clients included Caress Soap, Gillette, Ponds, Ivory, Shick, Revlon, Almay and Avon. The advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather had him lecture at the agency on “The Nude in Advertising.”

Robert Farber & Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis invited Farber to a meeting at Doubleday, a book publisher to discuss a book idea she had. She’d seen his work and was convinced he was the photographer to create the book “By the Sea.” It was successful and won the Art Director’s Award for color photography. His book “Farber Nudes” was included in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate collection.

Farber nudes help rescue the NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts came under huge criticism for backing the controversial exhibit Mapplethorpe/Serrano. ASMP, the American Society of Media Photographers, enlisted Farber’s nudes as examples of the artistic expression of the human form.

Women as art

Farber in his continuing support for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation produced a 50-year retrospective of multiple genres of work called “From Fashion to Conceptual … from Beauty to Nudes … to Re-Imagined.” The work in this video is beautiful and it is NSFW — not safe for work.

PBS documentary trailer

This video is a great exhibition of how versatile Robert Farber is in his vision and its realization into photographs. It too is NSFW.

Sources not cited: Robert Farber’s website.