Forever Inspiring: Irving Penn – Unpretentious Perfection

Irving Penn was the photographer that inspires me the most. Penn’s works are timeless pieces of art. They reflect so much of his sense and sensibility. Effortlessly elegant yet at the same time with so much precision and control. I am always in awe. I came to realize there is tension whenever there is a pursuit of perfection in anything, as if one holding his breath to create or anticipate the moment of perfection. I could feel his presence looking at his photos.

Irving Penn once said, ​​​“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world… very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.” What brought life to those portraits came from the people he photographed. Subtly, he captured human evanescence.

It is not surprising that Penn was a man with gentle demeanors that masked an intense perfectionism. One of his best known photos for Vogue in the 1950s shows an impeccably dressed model glancing sideways through a veil that covers her face, as if she wasn’t ready for her close-up. Elegance, balance, style and perfection all at once.

“Penn was a purist who (mis)trusted perfect beauty, which brought an engaging tension to his fashion photographs as well as his still life and portraits.” Lavish textures, rich shadow and light was Penn’s trademark. Penn’s longtime boss at Vogue, Alexander Lieberman, told Vanity Fair, “A Penn photograph, will always be a great photograph.”

Link to Irving Penn’s masterpiece.