r Mk i r V .v 't an extremely expensive printing process, and only very few periodi- cals are able to take upon themselves the costs involved. By far the majority of the colour pictures that meet the eye of the public today- owe their production and publication to big commercial advertisers. There are two categories of firms that commission colour photo- j graphs. One of themnumerically by far the greaterwants to j have its products photographed so as to look as good, as appetising or as enticing as possible. The Art Director here specifies not only i what the photograph shall show, but just how it shall be shown. The photographer is only the instrument, and his productions are at best only of technical and not of artistic interest. The second category adopts a completely different policy. The object of their advertising is less the boosting of a particular product than the impression of a name on the memory of the public. The advertisement is not meant specifically to attract buyersfirst and i foremost, its job is to stimulate interest and discussion. It must there fore be original above all things. And its originality must be of a cul tured and subtle character, because the buyer unconsciously connects the qualities of an advertisement with the product it advertises. But if a photographer is to be original, he must have complete freedom to work as he wishes, he must be a pioneer both in the technical and in the artistic fields. This brings us to Bert Stern. The problems that confront Bert Stern, and for that matter any other creative worker, are those of subject and treatment. The subject, the idea behind the picture, is what most occupies Stern's thoughts. It is also, as the accompanying specimens of his work show, the strongest component in the appeal of his photographic advertisements. Imagination, a feeling for form, a sense of humour and a measure of psychological insight combine to conjure up a pic ture, which at first exists only in the mind of the photographer. Here mere chance is excluded. The inspiration proper comes into action only in the treatment, in the translation of the idea into pictorial terms. To give an example: in 1953, in search of an arresting new approach, the advertising agency handling Smirnoff Vodka enlisted Bert Stern's aid. The resulting plan was declared unworkable by several leading photographers, and Stern himself got his first professional photo graphic assignment. Amongst the ideas for the campaign was one in volving a glass of ice-cooled vodka set down in the desert to contrast its perfect coolness with the extreme heat. A good idea in itself, but one which only became typical and extraordinary through its treat ment, for the photographer undertook no less than a journey to Egypt for the sake of this advertisement American snobbery, the reader will murmurand will be wrong. For while it would have been an easy matter to mount the picture of the vodka glass in a photograph of the pyramid at Gizeh, Stern aimed at something more, a kind of 'realistic fantasy'. It is his belief that people subconsciously react to something that is real and authentic in the same way as they react to a film that is made 'on location' as compared with one that is made in a studio. [Continued on page 5S4] 489

Graphis de | 1957 | | page 19