Friday, October 25, 2013

Kissing Venuses 9: by John Swannell

Back in 1982 Agent Triple P was given a book of nudes by photographer John Swannell.  We had seen some of his cool, stark images in Amateur Photographer and when we started work had a copy of his very tasteful calendar in our office at a City firm.  There was no objection by anyone to this and many people, including the women who worked there, came to admire what was a very beautiful production.  How times have changed!  One young lady even commissioned Triple P to do a nude drawing of her as a result!

She was the one who bought me the copy of the book which I still own.  Swannell got his distinctive look by using black reflectors which isolated his figures against the background.  Born in 1944, Swannell left school at sixteen and worked as an assistant at the Vogue studios before becoming David Bailey's assistant for four years.  

He then set up his own studio, doing primarily fashion shots and worked for all the major women's magazines.  Fine Lines was his first book and he has since published another twelve.  Both these kissing Venuses are from Fine Lines and now look quintessentially eighties.  The cover shot has become an iconic picture from that decade.  Swannell is now an important portraitist with over fifty of his photographs in the National Portrait Gallery.

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