As part of a generation of self-taught photographers, I discover new and inspirational works with every corner turned. Some of them by beginners, most of them by masters of whom I had not heard of before. Even though there are obvious advantages to not being force-fed information in a class-room, there are artists whom I wish I could have known sooner – Jeanloup Sieff being one of them.
After browsing some information on art galleries and printing options in Warwickshire, I stumbled upon a blog post about Jeanloup Sieff; an inspirational French photographer who worked within the arts and fashion world until his death in the year 2000. Working in black and white, Sieff’s images are both elegant and timeless.
Jeanloup Sieff (November 30, 1933 – 20 September 2000)
Sieff was born in Paris to parents of Polish origin. His interest in photography was first piqued when he received a Photax plastic camera as a birthday gift for his fourteenth birthday. He recalled his holidays in Polish winter resort of Zakopane as a period when photographing newly met girls he got really hooked on photography. In 1953 he attended the Vaugirard School of Photography in Paris, later on moved to the Vevey School in Switzerland, and in 1954 he was already working as a freelance reporter, leaving aside his brief interest in cinema.
In 1956 he began shooting fashion photography, and in 1958 he joined the Magnum Agency. His work for them made him travel to Italy, Greece, Poland and Turkey. He settled in New York for a number of years in the 1960s, where he worked for Esquire, Glamour, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, becoming extremely popular in America.
He won a number of prizes, including the Prix Niepce, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in Paris in 1981 and the Grand Prix National de la Photographie in 1992. He photographed many celebrities, among them Jane Birkin, Yves Montand, Alfred Hitchcock, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Rudolf Nureyev. Dancers and nudes were two recurring themes in his works. Jeanloup Sieff died in Paris, September 20, 2000 at the age of 66. His daughter, Sonia Sieff, is a known photographer.