William Klein

Name: William Klein, 1928 – Present

Genre: Fashion and Photojournalism

Famous Work: Klein achieved his fame through working with Vogue as a fashion photographer and his photographic essays of different cities across the world – most notably his 1957 book, New York. Despite working for Vogue, Klein had no real interest in fashion itself, instead he his used his opportunity whilst working for them to research the picture making process, challenging the rules and conventions of standard fashion photography (a approach he also took in his work as a photojournalist). He often photographed models in the street, using wide angle and long-focus lenses and long exposures combined with flash. His images were also highly contrasted, blurry or overexposed, however, this did not detract from his images but helped to add to the overall effect seen and worked in reflecting the environments he was photographing (see quote below).


I didn’t relate to European photography. It was too poetic and anecdodtal for me…. The kinetic quality of New York, the kids, dirt, madness–I tried to find a photographic style that would come close to it.So I would be grainy and contrasted and black. I’d crop, blur, play with the negatives. I didn’t see clean technique being right for New York. I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter like the New York Daily News.

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”

I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn’t interest me… there were things you could do with a camera that you couldn’t do with any other medium… grain, contrast, blur, cock-eyed framing, eliminating or exaggerating grey tones and so on. I thought it would be good to show what’s possible, to say that this is as valid of a way of using the camera as conventional approaches.


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