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From a time when…

  • <em>se Vouer</em> · Fashion Editorial
    se Vouer · Fashion Editorial
  • <em>se Vouer</em> · Fashion Editorial · <em>Caslon No 540 Italic</em>
    se Vouer · Fashion Editorial · Caslon No 540 Italic
Category : Magazine, Typography
Date : 17. August 2021

we were fashion editor, casting director, photographer, art director, typographer and type designer all rolled into one.

The story behind the “blue” photography was quite unusual and perhaps worth telling. I intended to photograph scenes of extreme elegance, and of course in Paris. But as a student I had no money, so I decided to develop a concept to photograph fashion on real women in the street. A kind of street photography, but with the ambition to make something very elegant.

So I spent 2 weeks in Paris (I settled on a campsite near the Bois de Bologne) looking for beautiful, well-dressed women. An endeavor that was not as easy as I had imagined. In order to take these kinds of paparazzi shots without a model, I had to remain unidentified. I used a 500mm telephoto lens with mirrors that allowed me to shoot handheld without attracting too much attention. For this, I used high-sensitivity 3200 ASA film material. In this way, I could shoot by hand and achieve exposure times of 1/250s or less to maintain focus. With a motor shutter, I took more than 600 shots (which was quite a lot at the time, since I was using analog film). Much of this footage was trash, but occasionally something really beautiful happened.

After I took a series of shots, the beautiful lady began to notice my uninvited presence. But perhaps she also saw in what state of arousal I was. […] She let me finish my work with indulgence.

However, the most amazing and exciting scene was this beautiful young lady sitting in a sidewalk cafe (I don’t remember where) behind the window, probably talking to a friend. I was so mesmerized by her beauty that I forgot everything that was happening around me. I stopped almost in the middle of a chaotic street with parked cars, passengers around me complaining…. After I took a series of shots, the beautiful lady (although I was at some distance) began to notice my uninvited presence. But perhaps she also saw in what state of arousal I was. For she gave me a beautiful but barely noticeable smile and continued talking as if nothing had happened. She let me finish my work with indulgence.

Later, in the dark room, I developed the coarse-grained film on hard photographic paper (AGFA barrit no 5 graduation) to make the grain stand out even more and achieve an almost abstract pointillism effect. Further, using a special chemical treatment, I changed the silver tones to a dark blue and experimented with it for almost 2 weeks. (At that time, you could hardly enter the lab at the university without running into me there.) In the process, I noticed that the grain was no longer as even. So I bought retouching paints in all shades of blue to gray, and with a fine hair brush I filled in the holes, at the same time scraping free the paper white in the condensations with a medical scalpel. This took me another 2 weeks. Extremely concentrated, almost meditative work. But I was completely in love with this beautiful face.

I decided to redraw a classic fashion typeface, Caslon No. 540 from Linotype, by hand to accompany my photographs. I enlarged the letters and drew them on tracing paper, which I placed over them. In this way I achieved a more beautiful and graceful typeface, especially by making the hairlines thinner. Then the letter images were zoomed out again with a reproduction camera and mounted on a transparent film, which was then deducted as contact under vacuum. The resulting text blocks or words were also exposed on AGFA No. 5 to achieve the absolute black on a brilliant white. According to my previous conceptual studies, I wanted the individual words (seVouer) to appear “cut out” of a text block surrounding. So I intentionally added partially truncated letters of the following or preceding words of an imaginary sentence.

One could say that the whole process was a very personal result of “se Vouer”: to dedicate oneself to something close to the border of self-sacrifice in order to represent beauty.

Credits:
Stefan Seifert | Photography
Guido Löhrer | Photography (reproduction)
Unknown | Model
Beatrix Herre | Model (legs)