In 1953 Penn opened his own commercial studio and almost immediately became one of the most influential and successful advertising photographers in the world. Eschewing any notions of naturalism, spontaneity, or chance, Penn has always favored the rigidly controlled, formal conditions of the studio. Thus, even when photographing North African nomads, New Guinea tribesman, Peruvian Indians, or Hell's Angels, Penn contrived portable studios that permitted much the same degree of elegant and structured lighting and composition that he used to photograph fashion models and socialites. In addition to his fashion and commercial work, Penn has produced a body of art photography. While the subject matter represents the antithesis of his fashion and commercial work, as does the use of platinum printing processes produced in numbered editions, both bodies of work reveal the same preoccupation: balance of form and carefully calibrated composition, with nuances of light and tone, presenting a subject that is emotionally neutral or kept always at emotional and psychological arm's length. Irving Penn: Truman Capote, New York, 1965
Irving Penn: Truman Capote, New York, 1965