Articles Tagged with: The Guardian
Neil Libbert | Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

The French House in Soho was the location for this impromptu shot of Francis Bacon. Libbert had called in for a lunchtime pint and found the pub empty apart from the painter, who drank there regularly. There was no film in Libbert’s camera so he loaded it surreptitiously and then secretly took two shots. Bacon was so deep in thought he did not notice him. Libbert never intended the picture to be published but it eventually appeared in the Observer some years later alongside the artist’s obituary

– The Guardian


René Burri | Che Guevara

People think I became a millionaire with that photo – but I didn’t get a thing from everyone who used it on matches, T-shirts and wine bottles.

-René Burri

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1963 © René Burri / MAGNUM PHOTOS

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1963 © René Burri / MAGNUM PHOTOS

From an interview in the Guardian in 2010:

In 1958, a year before the revolution, Magnum wanted to send me to Cuba because they had contacts with the rebels. I’d just spent six months in South America and said no, so I missed everything.

Fortunately, a few years later, I got another phone call. Laura Bergquist, a star reporter with Look magazine, had met Che Guevara at the UN in October 1962, after the Cuban missile crisis. She bugged him so much that he told her: “If you get permission from the CIA or the Pentagon, you are invited to Cuba, and I will show you what is really going on.” She got the green light from the Americans – and I went with her.

We arrived at Che’s office on the eighth floor of the Hotel Riviera in Havana. At that time he was the number-two man in Cuba – he was the minister for industry, and director of the Banco Nacional. His face was on the two peso note. I saw the blinds were drawn and, after we were introduced, I asked him in French: “Che, can I open the blinds? I need some light.” But he said no. I thought, well, it’s your face, not mine.

Immediately, Bergquist and Che started a furious ideological dogfight. She had to take back a story for the Americans, who were still angry about the revolution, and he was trying to convince her that what happened had to happen. For two and a half hours I could just dance around them with my camera. It was an incredible opportunity to shoot Che in all kinds of situations: smiling, furious, from the back, from the front. I used up eight rolls of film. He didn’t look at me once, he was so engaged with trying to convince her with maps and graphs. She was a chain-smoker, and he occasionally lit up one of his cigars.

We went back to New York, and Look ran a 16- or 20-page story. This picture was only an eighth of a page. It certainly wasn’t a photo essay, like the one Henri Cartier-Bresson did for Life magazine at the same time. He was in town with us, but only got to shoot Che at a press conference.

After Che died in 1967, this picture took on a great deal of iconic significance. Even before then, some kids from Zurich approached me wanting to make a poster from it. I never heard whether Che liked it or not; there was no response from Cuba at all. A photograph is a moment – when you press the button, it will never come back. This picture is famous thanks to the chap with the cigar, not to me.

-René Burri

Contact sheet snippet of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1963 © René Burri / MAGNUM PHOTOS

Contact sheet snippet of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1963 © René Burri / MAGNUM PHOTOS


Ellen von Unwerth | Her Best Shot

From The Guardian:

I took this maybe three years ago, on a fashion shoot for Italian Vogue. We developed a romantic story to go with it: a woman comes back to the place where she grew up, and finds it all dusty and falling apart. We shot it in a chateau in Paris. The girl was a model, and it was the only time I worked with her. After this, she disappeared. She was from eastern Europe, Romania maybe, and even the agency could’t find her again. So she’s like a ghost. The picture certainly has a ghostly feeling.

I love a picture that surprises you: you try to get everything perfect, then somehow it ends up looking wrong. That’s why I love this one. It was taken with a Polaroid, one of those beautiful things that no longer exist. The light has caused the blurriness, giving the shot extra emotion. There’s something eerie about it, too: the girl’s expression is both vulnerable and strong.

I was a model for 10 years before becoming a photo-grapher. That certainly helps me now. I always felt bad in front of the camera, having to pose in particular ways – when all I wanted to do was something silly. So now I love it when models move, when they express themselves, when they play.

I love beautiful women. I love to show their personality, their sexuality. There’s a fashion side to my erotic pictures: I love beautiful shoes and jewellery. But the erotic work I do is too daring and provocative for a fashion magazine. It’s more fun, and if you have the right girl who likes it, more exciting, too. It’s fashion photography, but with fewer clothes.

-Ellen von Unwerth

'She disappeared after this' … from Fräulein, by Ellen von Unwerth

'She disappeared after this' … from Fräulein, by Ellen von Unwerth