Hands up who’s heard of Jeanloup Sieff?

Cultural trends are difficult to spot when you’re in the middle of them.
They look like ‘normal’, it’s only with the benefit of distance can you join the dots.
It’d be useful to recognise current trends because generally they are followed by the polar opposite.
In fashion, plain is likely to be followed by pattern, natural by synthetic, subtle by loud.
When type was set on film and photographic paper, Art Directors and Designers were obsessed with sharpness, because perfection was almost impossible to achieve.
Not long after Apple Macs made it possible for everybody to have sharp, perfect type, people craved imperfection, so wood and metal type presses started to popping-up all over the place and becoming popular.
If a style becomes too ubiquitous people start to distance themselves from it, they don’t want to be sheep.
The best way to do it is to do the opposite.
So if you are looking for what may be fashionable tomorrow it’s useful to start with what’s unfashionable today.
The work of Jeanloup Sieff looks wildly out-of-place today.
Much as it did when I first came across it, back in 1994, when BBH used him to make ice-cream hot.

The pictures, like the ads, were like nothing around them at the time.
His images look so damned sixties.
There must be a technical or chronological reason as to why all photographers seemed to use a wide-angle lenses back then.
Or was it just that it created the opposite of what images looked like in the fifties?
(Also, why did everyone lie on their backs when shooting?)
Boy they used a lot of it, the images are unbelievably dense.
Some of that must be due to the more primitive printing methods magazines used back then, but obviously the photographers would be aware of the printing processes, so it was a choice.
A good-looking choice to my eye.
Part make-up, part attitude of the models and part surroundings.

Like most great photographers, he didn’t limit himself to one area, he took on fashion, reportage, portraits and inevitably; soup.
Whatever he shot it was stamped with with his own, idiosyncratic style.
None of these images feel like anything we see today.
Maybe tomorrow?

Magazine work.



3. Hats. Pattern:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg4. Soldier. Pattern:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg1. Budopest. Pattern:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg8. Hospital. Pattern:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg6. Bus 2. Pattern:Jeanloup Sieff.jpgsieff-1958-yves-montand-en-italie-fb-1.jpg

On location.
2. Louis_armstrong_paris_1955):Jeanloup Sieff:Dave Dye.jpg3. Yves-montand:Jeanloup Sieff:Dave Dye.jpg8b. Hitchcock 4:Jeanloup Sieff:Dave Dye.jpg128. :Jeanloup Sieff:Dave Dye.jpg1469d131988ed4a43b8c8316c7d7a23b.jpgJeanloup-Sieff_TFM_0026.jpg
Studio – Full figure.


The Body.



Photos in photos.

Little people.



Light from above.

Shaddow patterns.


Behind and in-front of the camera.

18.b:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg
15. Contacts Jeanloup:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg14. With Cameras:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg4. Printing:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg13 Eyes Wide:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg12. In Mirror:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg11. With Model:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg10 Cat:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg9 With Cig:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg
2. Stairs:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg1. Back:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg

8 Contacts:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg
6. JaneBirkin Contacts:Jeanloup Sieff.jpg






9 responses to Hands up who’s heard of Jeanloup Sieff?

  1. Alastair Laidlaw says:

    Both hands are up!!! OMG Jeanloup Sieff had a massive impact on my perspective on Black and White and composition Image making.My favourite wide angle lens 21mm was chosen because it was one Sieff’s most used lenses.So if you have not heard of him check it out.His daughter is an amazing photographer http://www.soniasieff.com Have fun…

  2. Warwick Majcher says:

    This is a great photographer before everyone with an iPhone became a photographer

  3. patrice de villiers says:

    Lovely to see this work again…he was inspiring & as you say, a true great photographer taking his vision to a variety of subject matter, curious & brilliant. Thank you for sharing & reminding me I must work harder, better & get out of the studio sometime!

  4. Alan Page says:

    I was always desperate to use an image of his (any image really) for our Harvey Nichols campaign and London Fashion Week stuff, but sadly it never happened. What a phenomenal collection you have collated.

    • dave dye says:

      Did he turn you down Alan or did you not get that far? Dx

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