Book Recommendation – Irving Penn: Small Trades
Pastry Chefs by Irving Penn, Paris, 1950
From Irving Penn: Small Trades, by Virginia A. Heckert and Ann Lacoste, 269 pages.
Irving Penn had stable employment as a fashion and portrait photographer, yet he took time to make portraits of average people working every day jobs. Penn fit them into his schedule between fashion shoots and portraits for hire. He hired assistants in Paris, New York and London to find people in public and ask them come as they were dressed and with the tools of their trade. They were offered a small fee if they came to Penn’s studio to have their portrait made.
Penn was particularly inspired by Eugéne Atget [1857-1927] whose petits métiers [small trades] works on the streets in Paris were a forerunner to this series of photographs. Penn was also influenced by German Photographer August Sander [1876-1964] who made similar portraits. Penn made his own small trades photographs, and the bulk of this series in the was made in a two year span. Most works are dated 1950 – 1951. Penn continued to make portraits of local peoples and regional workers through out his career but the work in this book was his most prolific time period for making the small trades photographs. Penn was a meticulous record keeper, yet the book itself does not name anyone’s portrait; all of the people in the photographs are identified only by their occupation