Friday, June 24, 2011

Raymond Meier - When Commercial Becomes Art

"Dipping Below" by Raymond MeierVogue US, April 2010

Raymond Meier was born in Switzerland in 1957, and built his career taking industrial and corporate photographs from his small studio in Zurich at the tender age of twenty. His first love was architecture, and he became a celebrated photographer in that industry. When he moved to New York City in 1986 he began to make his name in fashion and advertising. His brilliance lies in his composition; fashion intersects with architecture. He links the ethereal and elusive ideals of fashion to the cold, hard details of reality, concrete, structure, and in doing so, draws out the beauty in both. His sets are more than backdrops, but equally as essential to the image as the model. In fact, the models often remain obscure, with the eye being drawn to the product and the setting. In this way, Meier has succeeded in the realm many photographers cannot. He makes commercial photography an art. Those sections in magazines we often skim over in our rush to get to the editorials -the accessories or the beauty section - become the main event when he's behind the lens. It's the creativity of his shoots. It's just unlike anything anyone else is doing. I wish I could explain it to you, but it's easier if you see it for yourself.

Take these images, for example. They can stand on their own, capturing the innocence of a child playing in her mother's closet. The sweetness of the doll carefully bedecked in Mommy's pearl bracelet, the playfulness of the bear tucked in with Mommy's favorite shoes - these images remind the viewer of how their own love of fashion began. This is more than just selling purses and shoes.
"Dolled Up" by Raymond MeierVogue US, March 2005

And this image. We've all been there, exhausted on a layover between flights. The reality of it - the businessman who keeps checking his mail on his phone, the travel-pillow, trying to drown out the crowds with headphones, the security checks - is something we can relate to. And yet, look at those security trays. The moment we all dread -emptying our pockets, taking off our jewelry, hoping our regrettable body piercing doesn't set off the metal detector - THAT MOMENT is what Meier uses to sell accessories. Each gorgeous shoe, scarf, piece of jewelry is for sale. The glamor of the products mixed with the mundane and stressful moments of everyday life is what makes this image so brilliant.
"In Transit" by Raymond MeierVogue UK, February 2011

And finally, how creative are these images? Marc Jacobs just used puppies as backdrops for his new ad campaign for Louis Vuitton, but Meier did it first. And his puppy is selling it! I wonder how the model felt when she realized she was the prop, and the stars was the pooches.

"Best of Breed" by Raymond MeierVogue US, October 2008

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