William Klein, who is known as a pioneer of street photography, is not satisfied with the ordinary. His images evoke a sense of the photographer being a part of the world he’s documenting, rather than a passive observer. In a documentary entitled, The Many Lives of William Klein, the influential photographer and cinematographer looks back on his past and shares some of the history of his career:
After serving in the US Army, Klein studied art in Paris and remained there until Vogue magazine’s interest in his abstract images brought him back to his hometown of New York City in the 1950s. While there, he broke new ground when he created a book of black and white images depicting life in a city that was “always trying to sell itself.” Klein was unable to find a US publisher to buy the book. Now a collectible, the New York book showcases a distinct style that features harsh framing, blurring, distortions, and close up candid portraiture.
Later, when Klein entered the fashion photography scene, he didn’t give up his love of street photography and drive to create something new. He experimented with techniques that played with the idea of reality. He used telephoto lenses and mirrors, and he made waves by putting his fashion models into street photography situations–something no one else was doing at the time.
Still toting a film camera around at the age of 85, Klein contributes to such publications as the fashion world’s Harper’s Bazaar. His big personality, highlighted in the documentary, shows us a picture of a vibrant artist who doesn’t stop creating new and beautiful work. His bold way of interacting with the world is an inspiration to photographers of all genres.
“His pictures are like a fist in the face coming straight at you. You are not going to miss them.” –Don McCullin
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