Intricacies | Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers




One of the things I’ve been mulling over in my PhD is the bridge between the kind of photography that I make, or at least the kind of photography that I study, and the history of fashion photography at large (amongst many other things). I’ve long been fascinated with photographers Lillian Bassman, Irving Penn, and Erwin Blumenfeld. For example, I consider them the connective tissue between early fashion images and those of Deborah Tuberville’s, Sarah Moon’s and Paolo Roversi’s from the ’60s-’90s. And when I speculate on their work, I think about the textures of Lillian Bassman’s work and the backdrops in the work of Irving Penn. 

Penn, in particular, always used the same backdrop. It was reappropriated from a theatre set, which for me evokes the romance of set design, the craft of hand painting and the elegance of his work. It recurs in hundreds of his fashion shoots, forcing you to focus on the fashion instead of the background. This dreamy phantasmagoric realm emerges, laying just beyond the model, so effortlessly! I think a lot about textures. A texture can keep me watching a film where there is no plot; it can keep me transfixed on the same photograph for years on end. I cannot get bored of the fidelity or grade of beautiful film stock.

This shoot, for me, was an exercise in these textures, and what brought this into reality was Chloe. I approached Chloe, who features in this shoot, to collaborate as I just love the work she makes. I first saw her artwork in a project I stumbled upon online about Chinese art; she made the most delicate, intricate paper dressers that suited her so well and fit her entire world that she’d made. Chloe had also produced music that matched this fragile clothing, and I was so drawn to what she was creating. I asked her to be part of these images. Chloe made some clothes with us in mind, our perspectives; ethereal, bold, feminine, and in conversation with both eastern and western fashion history. I chose Prangsta as a safe space to shoot; they supported us so well during the pandemic, they are so welcoming and openhearted. 

Chloe and I spent many hours chatting about ideas on zoom, and I hope this is the start of many shoots together. 

This is the backdrop of Penn's I was referencing...


Here are some of the stages I took to make a version of this...

Please excuse the phone snaps of this one drying on my studio wall...

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