I haven’t been familiar with Sam Haskins’ photography for long, but something about his black and white work has captivated me. His ability to capture his models as if they were actors in a play is truly astounding, making for some fascinating photographs.
Drawing inspiration from the late Irving Penn, Haskins’ noted use of several style techniques have remained prominent in fashion photography for the past 40 years. However, Haskins remains a photographer first and a fashion photographer second. He has credited high-brow fashion editors, with a view of models as props instead of people, for his initial disengagement from the fashion community. Unwilling to be pin-holed into the highly-structured business of fashion, Haskins preferred to shoot his own work in lieu of giving up any creative control. Intent on capturing personality in his models while making the female nude’s movement seem ever so effortless, Haskins’ photographs instantly spark the viewer’s curiosity.
His most iconic works are captured in his seminal collections: Five Girls (1962) and Cowboy Kate (1964). These sixties classics remain cherished landmarks, projecting the elusive stylistic qualities that would become so popular in fashion photography. Five Girls challenged still photography by giving the female form movement, with its cinematic approach to capturing the persona of its characters in provocative, yet compelling depictions. In a 1963 article published in Journal Infinity, Andreas Feininger described Haskins’ work: “Whether smiling quietly, laughing in exuberant joie de vivre or seriously looking into space, they appear completely unconscious of their nudity. It seems to me it is precisely this frankness—those large clear eyes candidly looking at me—that gives Haskins’ nudes and semi-nudes their bewitching quality.”