Inspired by the core of the Ruby Pre-Fall collection being cut either in black or white, photographer Mara Sommer cast all her images in sharp but luscious monochrome, rich in depth, line and shading, playing with definition and drama, sometimes soft, sometimes hard.
Never satisfied with the status quo, Undone had her send through some of her favourite classic inspirational black and white shots, and tell us a little more about her return to photography’s original state of play…
Why did you choose to shoot in black and white for this beautiful campaign?
Deanna [Ruby’s head designer] had the idea to shoot the campaign in black and white. I think it really works to bring out the textures of the fabrics and shapes of the garments. Especially this pre-fall collection has strong/thick and also light/thin fabrics, which are a contrast and show beautifully in black and white.
Have you worked a lot in black and white?
I do work in black and white, but I shoot in colour most of the time. When I started photographing I solely shot in black and white. It’s a very good way to learn. You can concentrate on shapes and texture. Adding colour is an additional element and can sometimes be distracting.
What are the unique challenges/advantages of black and white photography?
The challenge is that shapes and texture need to be very well arranged. Different shades, textures and shapes make a black and white image, and they need to be perfect. Another challenge is to imagine the objects you shoot in black and white, as they’re in colour in real life most of the time. Nowadays you can always change a colour image into black and white on the computer, but for me it’s very different to shoot in colour or black and white. I concentrate on different things and prefer to know if the images are to be used in black and white or colour.
Who are some favourite old-school black and white photographers you love?
Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon are great black and white photographers. Both photographers are great with shapes and textures. Helmut Newton’s nude images are very much focusing on the shape of nude bodies – often he uses very clean, strong lines. Richard Avedon’s fashion photography from the ‘60s concentrates on the shape of the clothing as well as the shapes created by movement.