Click here to view the full selection in the online viewing room and watch a video of footage of Herb Ritts during his lifetime.
Herb Ritts was one of the most important American fashion photographers of the 1980’s and 90’s.
He was not formally trained as a photographer but learned a great deal by collecting pictures. Building his own collection allowed him to explore different styles of portraiture and fashion. More importantly, collecting gave him the perspective of a photographer making prints rather than just images for publication.
Ritts also championed his industry colleagues. Perhaps most influential to his career was Franca Sozzani, who is best known for her work as editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. Franca had a very ambitious programme of design for the magazine, but her method of mentorship was ultimately to trust in the aesthetic process of the people she employed, allowing Ritts to develop a personal, signature style very early in his career.
This style was largely distinguished by Ritts’ use of natural light and stark backgrounds, and always by his desire to bring out the inward character of his subjects. He took a more classical approach to the human body and its varied moods, creating pictures that stood out from the magazine page, and spoke more intimately and directly to his viewers. By marrying the genres of fine art and commerce, Ritts’ legacy endures to the present day.