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Rare Herb Ritts Photographs - PDN Photo of the Day

Herb Ritts’s 1999 assignment photographing San Francisco Ballet dancers for Paris Vogue was a return to simpler way of working. A selection of 24 images from the shoot are on view at Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles until October 28, along with some of his best-known, body-focused work, such as his 1992 portrait of Naomi Campbell. At the time of the Paris Vogue assignment, Ritts was at the height of his acclaim, shooting advertising campaigns for clients such as Victoria’s Secret and directing music videos for stars such as Mariah Carey and Chris Isaak; he was also under contract for Vanity Fair and American Vogue, where he regularly photographed celebrities for covers. The ballet series, “Corps Et Âmes,” was different. Although Paris Vogue was also published by Condé Nast, Ritts was required to get permission from the editor-in-chief of the American version to shoot the assignment. Shot in black and white against a plain cloth background, the series featured the dancers Lorena Feijoo, Yuri Possokhov, Pierre-François Vilanoba and Pauli Magierek posing nude and clothed on the roof of Ritts’s studio in Los Angeles. Using mostly natural light and only a few assistants, the shoot was “a deliberate attempt…to return to the core basics upon which he established his career,” writes the gallery in a statement. The result demonstrates the rapt attention to the human form for which Ritts was first celebrated.