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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photographer Profile ~ Sarah Moon

It is difficult to summarise Sarah Moon’s fantastical photography - almost thirty years of image making has made Sarah Moon a legend in her own lifetime. Well known for her very personalised commercial work since the early 1970s, Sarah has continued to investigate a world of her own invention without repetition and also without compromise.

Sarah Moon is a French photographer born in 1941 into a Jewish family forced to leave occupied France. She studied drawing and started out as a model. “My first husband was an artist. I modelled to make money, and not very often.” She was a fashion model from 1960 to 1966. Look hard, though, and you’ll find her in Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin pictures. Both photographers remained friends and mentors of Sarah Moon

She cites Bourdin’s influence — his obliqueness and narrative content, most probably, rather than his sexual urgencies and intense colours. Her tonal palette is restricted and gated, though lush and original. “I don't really like colour,” she has said. “To make it work for me, I have to mess with it. I believe that the essence of photography is black and white. Colour is but a deviance.”

She moved behind the camera in 1970 when she was already 29. The late start hints at her fear of failure. That delay, though, seems to have provided time and space for her exotic style to develop in private, untrammelled by photo editors' negativity. It was almost fully formed from the start.

In 1972, she became the first woman to photograph the Pirelli calendar. She shot in Paris, at the Villa des Tilleuls, in a rich, blurry colour reminiscent of Degas’ paintings of ballerinas.

Moon photographed for French Elle, Italian Vogue and shot campaigns for Chanel, Rykiel, Miyake, Thierry Mugler, Lacroix and Dior. But after 15 years working in fashion, responding to the commands of numerous brands and magazines, Sarah Moon's career takes a turn when the artist decides to devote more time to photograph more personal, introspective and purely artistic images. [via Wiki and other sources]

I was lucky enough to see a Sarah Moon exhibition here in Toronto when I was in college. I was blown away by the shear beauty and elegance of her work. Enjoy...


 "I don't really like color. To make it work for me, I have to mess with it. I believe that the essence of photography is black and white. Color is but a deviance. Except when one works with very untrue colours, such as Polaroid, or as in certain photos by Paolo Roversi, where color is flattened, so that painting is no longer the reference.~ Sarah Moon"

“Fashion photography is after all a difficult métier,” she says ’cause there are too many aspects to focus on: the styling, the make-up and the model. This is the reason why the women on her pictures are often out of focus and transformed into a compositional element to emphasize that there isn’t a particular definition of femininity. It’s not just about recording an image, it’s about making a statement." Sarah Moon

 "The best we can do is to be ready - and that's the hardest. All the efforts we invest, the intensity, the waiting, the hoping are not enough. Sometimes we work like mad, for hours, in vain, and then all of a sudden, in three minutes, at the right place, the right moment, from the right angle, a stroke of luck expresses what we wanted to say". ~ Sarah Moon

 "When I feel moved by the beauty of a young woman, what overwhelms me is the impermanence, the feeling that it must be captured in that particular instant. I see beauty appearing and disappearing, and I feel disheartened, because I am never sure that I live up to the privilege, that I do what has to be done to convey what I saw. Our anguish, our feeling of guilt stems from the knowledge that it depends on us, on our way of seeing what's in front of our eyes." ~ Sarah Moon

Five images from the 1972 Pirelli calendar by Sarah Moon:

Self portrait of Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon's stream of consciousness narrative is poetic and insightfull. A glimpse into the heart, mind and soul of a true artist. Enjoy...


  1. lovely! Thanks for doing the hard work to share her art!

  2. Thanks for the post! Sarah Moon's pictures are amazing... I found some beautiful Sarah Moon's works in Art Days, here is the link! hhttp://www.art-days.com/sarah-moon/ Enjoy!