Peter Lindbergh passed last week. He was 74. We photographers rarely get to meet each other, but we are very aware of what each of us is doing. I moved to Paris at the age of 24 to work for fashion magazines. Lindbergh was about 15 years older and had moved there a few months earlier. I remember seeing the clever genius of a newsprint broadsheet that he had printed “Lindbergh Lands in Paris” laying around the model agencies. These were the times of a new version of beauty, with model agencies like NAME in Paris, pushing against the American views of what beauty could be. Peter was the champion of this movement.
He wanted images with not only story but with a backstory. With faces that could convey deep emotion, not just perfect structure.
He Championed Authenticity (before it was a thing)
He had a great influence on me, and how AGEIST looks today. If there is any retouching on a Lindbergh photo, it is very minor. He reveled in the imperfect, the natural with a cinematic reflection of people’s lives. When I look at one of Peter’s photos, I see a captured frame from a movie. These pictures were deeply thought out, filled with actresses or models acting, rather than just a pretty face with a nice frock. Looking at these images, I feel tremendous respect – not only for the craft but for the subjects in them. There is something very human about his work, even if the people in the pictures are supermodels.
The Idea of Beauty in Age
I recall an interview with him where he is speaking with Charlotte Rampling about how they both thought they were aging with a sense of beauty. This idea of beauty in the changes resulting from age, the rose that is losing its petals, was something key to his work and something that is important as an idea for us here at AGEIST.
“This should be the responsibility of photographers today, to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”
There is a life cycle of all things, and we are part of that. We don’t believe in the denial of age but in the ownership of it. Peter seemed to do the same with his work. There was, of course, youth in many of the models, but by showing the imperfection that comes with age, he gave power to this idea of owning who we are and the bodies we are in.