I have a modest photobook collection, something in the neighborhood of 150 volumes, give or take, and not counting theory books or zines. I’ve tried to be rather democratic in my collecting, picking up books from professionals and amateurs, masters and novices, documentarians and artists, but upon reading Anil Mistry’s review of Pages from the Glossies on 35mmc, I realized something was missing from my collection: fashion.
Sure, I have books from Klein and Avedon, but the books I have from them are their books of social commentary: (Life is Good and Good for You in) New York and Nothing Personal (with James Baldwin). So I figured I needed some proper fashion photography in my collection, and jumped on Pages from the Glossies.
It doesn’t hurt that used copies like mine go for $20 or $25, and when it arrived, I was shocked at the size and weight of it. Of course, I shouldn’t have: Helmut Newton was one of the foremost fashion photographers of the 1960s-1990s, and Pages from the Glossies contains the best of that long career, the photographs, as they appeared in Vogue, Elle, Nova, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, and others, but especially Vogue in its many iterations.
The first images in the book were taken when Newton was 36, and the last when he was 78, and so you can see how his work changed over the years, the different branching paths he ventured down, the backtracking, the experimentation, and not only with Newton’s photography, but also with the models he chose (or were chosen for him), the settings, the clothes, and even magazine typography and layout trends.
Now I don’t shoot fashion much, or at all, really, but I do photograph my family, neighbors, and friends, and if I really study this book and pay some attention, I’m sure I’ll find some things to try with those photographs too, if I haven’t already. And once I’ve made the photographs, I can also look at the ways magazine editors laid out the photographs and maybe take some inspiration for my next zine or a book.
Overall, I’d give Pictures from the Glossies a solid 4 stars.
Taschen are still printing these, so there are thousands and thousands of copies out there, and you can easily find a nice clean used copy for cheap. So if you, like me, collect photobooks in (putative) hope of learning something, and if you, like me, don’t have any fashion work in your collection, Pictures from the Glossies is a great place to start.