And if you were expecting a post on the best of Bai Ling red carpet looks, sorry! Next post, maybe.
I’m a photography hound–more specifically, a vintage photography hound, since 90% of pictures from the past 10 years or so aren’t worth my time collecting. I salivate over the works of Avedon, Newton, Hurrell, Scavullo, and Meisel, and have collected books of almost all these well-known shutterbugs. As well as the work of Herb Ritts. Good Bowie Prince, I still love the work of Herb Ritts.
Anyone who used to read Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview, and Rolling Stone from the late 80s to the early 2000s has likely come across a Ritts picture. I think the first time I noticed his work was not from a magazine, but from MTV. Ritts wasn’t just a top-notch photographer, but he also directed music videos for some of music’s notable names.
I remember seeing these videos in heavy rotation on MTV as a kid (when MTV played music videos!) At first I thought Janet’s video was a long commercial for Calvin Klein jeans. Granted, I wasn’t aware that Ritts directed these vids when I first saw them, but when I read up more about him and his work as a teen, I was enamored. He had all the talent.
“Herb Ritts was a genius. No one did natural sexy like Herb. I miss him.”–supermodel Amber Valetta
On the one hand, it’s sad that Ritts is no longer around (he passed away in late 2002). I would have loved to have seen the Obamas, Serena Williams, Lupita N’yongo, Ashley Graham, Stephen Curry, Christina Aguilera (who sadly missed out while he was still alive), and others from his perspective. On the other hand, given the glut of bratty, spoiled annoyances in celebrity-dom today (Kuntye West, Lena Dumbham, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande and her fiance, the Kartrashians, the Hadonts, etc.), maybe there is a silver lining to Ritts no longer being around. I wouldn’t want his legacy tainted by shooting such mediocrity like what became of Testino and Demarcherlier (both of whom, coincidentally, have suffered a fallout in their once-illustrious careers thanks to sexual abuse allegations). And since Ritts worked a lot for Vogue and Vanity Fair, you know he would have had to shoot some egotistic fools the current Vogue and Vanity Fair promotes.
In this age of photography where excessive airbrushing, daft nepotism (hello, Brooklyn Beckham!), and potato-quality cell phone pics are now being accepted and even glorified, revisiting Ritts’ work gets me nostalgic for “the good ol’ days” of photography and celebrity, and grateful that he’s part of fashion photography history and that his work is still remembered and influential to this day. I see a little bit of Ritts influence in Inez & Vinoodh, but none of the current crop of hot photogs (I&V, Mert & Marcus, Nick Knight, etc.) can never measure up to Ritts’ greatness! Also, photography duos may be “in” right now, but some of those duos can’t even make one good pic! *cough*Mert & Marcus*cough*
Today would have been Ritts’ birthday (August 13th). I still miss him.
Some pics and the Valetta quote courtesy of pleasurephoto.wordpress.com (where there is a nice treasure trove of Ritts pics, among other great photographers!).