Photography Sam Haskins
Sam Haskins, born Samuel Joseph Haskins (born 11 November 1926, died 26 November 2009), was a British photographer, born and raised in South Africa. He started his photographic career in Johannesburg and moved to London in 1968. Haskins is best known for his contribution to nude photography, in-camera image montage, and his books, the most influential of which were Five Girls (1962), Cowboy Kate (1964) and Haskins Posters (1973). He suffered a stroke on 19 September 2009, the opening day of his exhibition to launch 'Fashion Etcetera' at Milk Gallery in New York and died at home in Bowral, Australia, nine weeks later.
Haskins started his career as an advertising photographer in Johannesburg in 1953. He ran what was probably the first modern freelance advertising studio in Africa. He produced commercial work across a very broad spectrum of photography from still life to industrial, fashion and aerial. His first formal creative output was a one-man show at the popular Johannesburg department store John Orrs in 1960. This featured black-and-white photography of models in the studio and included some photographs of dolls made by the young Elisabeth Langsch, who went on to become Switzerland's leading ceramist.
His international reputation and his signature photographic passions were established by four key books published in the 1960s. Five Girls (1962) explored a fresh approach to photographing the nude female figure and contained important first explorations with black-and-white printing, cropping and book design, which were a key feature of his subsequent books. Cowboy Kate & Other Stories (1964) was probably the first book to deliberately explore black-and-white photographic grain as a medium for expression and image design. It was highly influential at the time, sold roughly a million copies worldwide and won the Prix Nadar in France in 1964. It continues to influence contemporary photographers, film makers, fashion designers and make-up artists. Cowboy Kate & Other Stories or 'Kate' as the book is often referred to, had its place in photographic history cemented in 2005 when the International Center of Photography in New York included the book in their exhibition The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present.
In 1968 Haskins moved to London and ran a studio in Glebe Place just off the King's Road. He worked as an advertising photographer for international consumer brands Asahi Pentax, Bacardi, Cutty Sark whisky, Honda, BMW, Haig whisky, DeBeers, British Airways, Unilever and Zanders, and specialised in the art direction and shooting of calendars, especially for Asahi Pentax in Japan. Although he endorsed Hasselblad for a short period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, his loyalty to the medium format 6x7 camera and lenses from Asahi resulted in a rare long-term association between a camera manufacturer and photographer. From 1970 to 2000, Asahi Optical (later Pentax) produced 30 calendars, of which Haskins shot and art-directed 15 editions including the millennium calendar. No other photographer was invited to contribute more than once. He is still involved with the Pentax Forum Gallery in Tokyo, which hosts his exhibitions. His first contact came in 1967 when Asahi Optical presented him with a 35 mm camera after hearing that he had shot African Image with various competitors' products.
In 1972 he produced his first colour book, Haskins Posters.The large-format publication contained pages printed on one side using a thick stiff paper and a soft glue perfect binding allowing the pages to be removed and used as posters. Haskins and Alida successfully published the book internationally through their own company, Haskins Press. The book won a gold award at the New York One Show. At the time the best-known image from Haskins Posters, a girl's face superimposed on an apple with a bee near the stem, appeared on the cover or in editorials of almost every major photographic magazine around the world. This image was part of a well-publicised visual and graphic experimentation with the apple theme in the 1970s that for a while resulted in photographic journalists nicknaming him 'Sam the Apple man'.
The images in Haskins Posters traversed different creative themes that all became signature passions for Haskins' image-making over the next three decades; graphically strong compositions of nudes characterised by a natural essence in the models while the image-making explored themes of graphic experimentation, humour and sensual eroticism. Haskins has a recurring theme (rooted in his training as a painter) of creating tension in the surface of his photographs between flat graphic elements and 3D chiaroscuro. These results are often achieved with sophisticated lighting and/or double exposures. A highly creative and design driven approach to lighting almost always plays a key role in Haskins' work, both in the studio and on location. He often develops complex lighting designs for a single specific shot that are never repeated, the most recent example being a fashion shoot for New York magazine's 75th anniversary issue shot in New York's Pier 57 studios in August 2006.
From 2000 to 2005, he focused on fashion photography for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Allure and New York. A shortage of copies of the original edition of Cowboy Kate & Other Stories (1964), which was selling to collectors for up to US$3,000, led Haskins to bring out a digitally remastered 'director's cut' version in October 2006, published by Rizzoli in New York. Apart from image editing and layout revisions, the new version has 16 pages of new images.
In 2002 Haskins and Alida moved to the Southern Highlands in Australia and built the third house-studio of their partnership. The move away from London resulted in a renaissance in Haskins' fashion photography. While he always had a passion for fashion from the start of his career, and Cowboy Kate influenced fashion designers, who credited Haskins, he had not been courted by the mainstream fashion world and he did not court them. A shoot for [Yves Saint Laurent (designer)|Yves Saint Laurent] in Paris in 2002 resulted in a 'rediscovery' that led to a stream of assignments in London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney working for fashion houses and magazines.Wikipedia