When I was a kid, my parents gave me a book called "Vogue Book of Fashion Photography." I still have it.
I drew from that book like crazy. I even did batiks and other stuff based on the images.
The images I liked best had this singular quality to them, very focused but very complete at the same time. And a lot of them were by Richard Avedon.
This week I got to the Richard Avedon exhibit at SF's MOMA. A lot of the images from my book were there, plus a whole lot more.
Avedon's work is really interesting because he is so totally focused on telling a story through his lens, but it's as if he's not there. The subject is all you see, even though you know a whole lot went into making the image. The result is this very simple, very unencumbered view of the subject.
One of my favorite sets of images showed Avedon's father over the last few years of his life, first in a suit and eventually in a hospital gown. He was clearly losing his alertness, and the last image looks almost like his head has come loose from his body. It's only about 6 images or so, but it tells you an enormous amount of information about this man.
If you're near San Francisco, it's well worth seeing. Especially if, like me, you've been looking at Avedon's work all your life as if it were pieces of mental furniture.