Irving Penn and Platinum Printing

Photographing a cake can be art, Irving Penn

When I first took up photography and began to take it seriously, I was lucky enough to have included in the very first books I purchased (in addition to the usual how-to books on technique): 1) Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places [8]; 2) Walker Evan’s American Photographs; [1]; and 3) Irving Penn’s Worlds in a Small Room [6]. Like the newly born bird who keeps close to those it first lays its eyes on, I have not (for better or worse) strayed too far from these early influences. My initial interest in Irving Penn was less about technique and more about subject matter; I found his images of indigenous peoples from many parts of the world fascinating and eye-opening to say the least. It also opened the door to much of his still life, fashion, and editorial work that he did later for the likes of Vogue. It was later on after developing my own interest in alternative/historical processes, and in particular, platinum and palladium printing, that I discovered that Irving Penn was one of the many photographers responsible for the resurgence in interest in these and other historical processes.

Irving Penn, Truman Capote, 1965 [7]