Poignant Pics no. 6 // Angela Lillian Chen
Welcome to no. 6 in our new series Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly changed the way they think or look at the world. Our summer intern, Angela Lillian Chen looks back to her first experiences with photography and the inspiration of Richard Avedon’s fashion work.
The first time I experienced photography as more than the simple act of pressing a button was through my high school film photography class. The darkroom instantly became my haven. I spent all extra time of the day in the darkroom, often causing my friends to wonder where I ran off to during lunch time. The magic of watching an image appear on paper was too mesmerizing for me to look away.
When I saw this image by Richard Avedon I was captured by the movement and shapes of the model’s form. Each point of a toe and finger are precise and intentional. Her all black ensemble is mysterious and somber, yet her movement is alive and playful. The model moves slightly out of frame - her energy cannot be contained. The border of the film holder reminded me how carefully thoughtful each release of the shutter must have been - something Avedon definitely had a mastery of.
The darkroom instantly became my haven.
What I have admired most in Avedon’s work is his ability to blur the line between art and advertising. I am often most drawn to his fashion work for the personality and energy he has so artfully captured. As an artist, I have always strived to capture that extra something special in my photography - a vitality or spirit - in the subject before me.
Photography has breathed a purpose in me that I have only begun to understand. As I look onto the work of great creators such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, I am infinitely inspired to create and make. If you’re wondering where I am - I’ll be in the digital darkroom.
- Angela Lillian Chen
Angela Lillian Chen is an editorial photographer from San Francisco, CA and recently received her MFA in Photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been featured in Photographer’s Forum, the Lucie Foundation, and Academy of Art Exhibitions. While she primarily works digitally, she was formerly taught in the black and white film darkroom and still holds interest in working with alternative processes such as cyanotype and gum printing. Her work primarily expresses an elegant use of natural light and soft color palette.