Photographer: Herb Ritts - L.A. Style - And His Strong Signature Of Sensuality


The first time I became aware of Herb Ritts was back in the early 90's, when he photographed Mark Wahlberg for the Calvin Klein underwear ad campaign. Do you remember these pictures?...


I mean, come on...who didn't experience titillation upon seeing these ads? I bet the stock market in Calvin Klein underwear rose sky high (no pun intended) soon after these ads were released. Many of the gay men I knew, not only wanted them for themselves, but they also secretly hoped that each package of underwear came with its very own Mark Wahlberg - kind of like getting a really great prize in a box of Cracker Jack.

It was then that I became an admirer of the unique photographic style of Herb Ritts.

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Backstory:

In the late 1970's, the mostly self-taught, Los Angeles–based photographer Herb Ritts stumbled upon success, after his images of his longtime friend Richard Gere (taken at a California gas station, on a lark) were widely published and well received.


For the next two decades, Ritts distinguished himself with his clean, minimalistic knack for capturing Southern California light and landscapes. He often made use of the bright California sunlight to produce high contrasts, and his preference for outdoor locations such as the desert and the beach. He liked to shoot between the hours of 3 and 6 PM because that was the "golden light" - his favorite light of the day.

Herb Ritts revolutionized fashion photography. He became famous for his ultra-stylish black and white portraits.


He also directed music videos with MadonnaMichael JacksonChris Isaak and others.

There was always a strong signature of sensuality in Ritts's photography. He could photograph a nude man or woman yet, it never appeared pornographic. His images were like works of art - sculptures - celebrating the aesthetic beauty of both the male and female form.

Many people who were photographed by Herb Ritts said that he possessed a special talent for making them feel completely relaxed and comfortable in front of his camera, and that they had total trust in him. He brought out the best in everyone.

I love many of Herb Ritts's photographs, so it was challenging to share just these.

Please enjoy....














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Herb Ritts lived with HIV for 15 years. He died in 2002 from complications relating to pneumonia.

However, his work continues to influence generations of photographers, filmmakers and image makers. His light shines on...




*Exquisite documentary on Herb Ritts


Have a grrrreat week everyone!
X

34 comments

  1. A true artist, Ron. I enjoyed looking at these photographs. In fact, I will take another look before I go.

    I am writing this on ipad which is difficult, tho I managed to put an explanation in the comment box of my last post. Thank goodness email type is not as tiny. Hope to be back soon.

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  2. What a celebration of the human body! He certainly knew how to capture beauty. It's interesting that the men in the photos are all so muscular. I actually find him (in the last photo) to be the most attractive of them all! Probably because i think brains is more sexy than brawn.

    Hope your week is full of beauty!

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  3. Gorgeous photographs, Ron! Exactly as you said, " His images were like works of art - sculptures - celebrating the aesthetic beauty of both the male and female form."

    Yes, I do remember those Calvin Klein ads with Marky Mark!

    Looking forward to watching the documentary today. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Herb Ritts!

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  4. My goodness, Ron, what an incredibly talented man! And that fact that he was mostly self-taught makes his work even more exciting. I well remember the Mark Wahlberg ads and how I would commit murder most foul to have a set of abs like his!

    I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know much at all about Herb Ritts and I thank you so much for this post. You're so right that his work doesn't look pornographic.

    What a fabulous artist and what a shame that we lost him at such a young age. Great post, buddy, and thanks again for sharing!

    Have a great week!

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  5. These captures reaffirm the fact that the human form is beautiful. Granted, these are gorgeous specimens of the human physique, but I agree with Bijoux....this is a fantastic celebration of the human body.

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  6. Sometimes, being self-taught is a *good* thing. Of course, there's the possibility of learning wrong, but I imagine you'd find a way to correct that if it occurred.

    Ron, did you notice how BUFF all these male models were?!?

    What I especially liked is this statement -- "he possessed a special talent for making them feel completely relaxed
    and comfortable in front of his camera, and that they had total trust in
    him" You know, it takes a special photographer to ease a subject into relaxing. Most folks seem to be camera-shy and self-conscious, and getting them to relax is key to getting a good shot.

    Happy week to you, my friend! xx

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  7. Good morning Valerie!

    Aren't they beautiful? Many people who knew Herb Ritts said that he had a "classical art" sense with his photography because he took photographs like a classical artist would create paintings or sculptures.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, friend. Have a lovely week!

    X

    P.S. I stopped by your blog and read your comment. OMG...you and I seem to have had the same computer (technical problems) lately, hu? Hope you get it all sorted out quickly. Isn't it the pits when your computer gives you problems?

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  8. Aren't his images amazing?

    "It's interesting that the men in the photos are all so muscular. I actually find him (in the last photo) to be the most attractive of them all! Probably because i think brains is more sexy than brawn."

    Even though I can greatly appreciate and see the beauty in their physiques, I'm with you....I find him to be VERY attractive and sexy!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a beeeeautiful week!

    X

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  9. Greetings Candice!

    Wasn't his work, gorgeous? Like, works of art!

    "Yes, I do remember those Calvin Klein ads with Marky Mark!"

    ANd I remember the HUGE billboard of that Calvin Klein ad in Times Square, New York. It literally looked like a skyscraper!

    Hope you enjoy the documentary. I watched it at least 5 times already, it's that goo!

    Have a super week, my friend, and thanks so much for stopping by!
    X

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  10. Hey there ob!

    " And that fact that he was mostly self-taught makes his work even more exciting. "

    Yes, I thought the same thing. So many really talented people who I've admired have been self-taught in their crafts.

    " I well remember the Mark Wahlberg ads and how I would commit murder most foul to have a set of abs like his!"

    HA! I think many of us did at that time.

    " I well remember the Mark Wahlberg ads and how I would commit murder most foul to have a set of abs like his!"

    He was primarily a West Coast photographer who made his living by doing editorial work for many, many magazines. He also did quite a bit of video work for various vocal artists.

    I agree, he passed away way too young.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week and again, CONGRATS on your job!

    X

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  11. Hello there Lisa!

    " Granted, these are gorgeous specimens of the human physique, but I agree with Bijoux..."

    Yes, I agree with Bijoux as well.

    And what I especially loved about his photographs was that he viewed the human body (both male and female) with the same beauty, in their own ways.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaaaabulous week!

    X

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  12. Hello there Debbie!

    "Sometimes, being self-taught is a *good* thing. Of course, there's the possibility of learning wrong, but I imagine you'd find a way to correct that if it occurred."

    Exactly. And just because some goes to an official school to learn something (such as photography) doesn't mean they won't make mistakes and have to correct them. It's just that he preferred to learn through his own mistakes, by teaching himself. And that's how I like to learn as well.

    "Ron, did you notice how BUFF all these male models were?!?"

    Yes, as if they were carved out of marble like the sculpture of "David", by Michelangelo.

    People who knew him (whether it was someone he photographed or a friend) said that he was such a sweet man.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a HAPPY week!
    X

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  13. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comSeptember 19, 2016

    I love the black and white stylish shots! The last two are beautiful!

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  14. Kind of tricky to open up this post at work, lol - but I agree wholeheartedly: Herb Ritts had the talent to keep his subjects looking sensual instead of pornographic. And B&W is a great way to showcase the human body, too. I remember his music videos, as well. They definitely had his "signature" look. These are all great shots - thank you so much for sharing!

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  15. Ron, these images are stunningly beautiful! You're right, they have a strong sense of sensuality but in no way are pornographic or offensive. It's like you said in your comment to Debbie, as if they were carved out of marble like a sculpture by Michelangelo. Both the men and the woman are just beautiful!

    Love the last one and the first one of Naomi Cambell, she looks like a 1950's pinup girl. Great photograph!

    Herb Ritts had a distinct style that was all is his own!

    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week, Ron x

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  16. Me too, Fiona! I adore the black and white shots and how stylish they look.

    I love the last two as well. That final shot is of all the supermodels of that time. On the documentary it was said that that shot was an impromptu photograph Herb Ritts took when all those girls came to his home one day. I love the expressions on their faces because they are all different and yet, all so relaxed and comfortable looking.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a terrific week!
    X

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  17. "Kind of tricky to open up this post at work, lol"

    HA! OMG Mark....I never even thought about that.

    " And B&W is a great way to showcase the human body, too."

    You are so right about that because with black and white, you can really see the shadows, highlights, and contours of the body.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a faaaaaaaabulous week!

    X to you and Tara

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  18. Hola Denise!

    "Both the men and the woman are just beautiful!"

    Yup...I totally agree! What I especially enjoyed about Herb's photographs was that he had such an appreciation for both men and women. And it's so obvious in his images, the beauty of both the male and female form.

    "Love the last one and the first one of Naomi Cambell, she looks like a 1950's pinup girl. Great photograph!"

    LOVE that one too! You're right, it looks like a 1950's Betty Page pinup shot!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have a wonderful week!
    X

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  19. What an artist with the camera, Ron! I read your post this morning but wanted to watch the video when I got home so that I could know more about Herb Ritts before I left a comment. What a wonderful documentary. But it was too short, I wanted to see more! You could tell that he was a really cool guy and deeply admired by those around him. I found it so interesting to hear about the way he liked to shoot pictures and never used a tripod. He liked shooting by hand and around the elements.

    Outstanding selection of photographs! I am so impressed that he was self-taught. He had a natural talent with the camera.

    Thanks for sharing, dude! Very cool post!

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  20. Hiya Matt!

    So glad to read that you watched the documentary and enjoyed it! Yes, I think it was too short as well. It's only 12 mins, but they share a lot about Herb in those 12 mins. I am going to see if I can find more videos on his life and work.

    "I found it so interesting to hear about the way he liked to shoot pictures and never used a tripod. He preferred shooting hand-held."

    Wasn't that interesting? I also found it interesting that he had an affinity to elements and enjoyed shooting photographs in and around them.

    I too was very impressed to read that he was primarily a self-taught photographer. He has such a passion for photography and that's probably why he learned so easily by just doing it.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a most excellent week!

    X

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  21. Wow Ron, these photographs are breathtaking! He was so talented with lighting because he knew how to use it to accentuate the human figure, every bone, muscle and tendon. These are like works of art created by the camera!

    I do remember those Calvin Klein ads from the 90's. I wonder if he photographed the ads for the jeans as well? Didn't Brooke Shields pose for Calvin Klein jeans? Do you know if Herb Ritts took those too?

    Herb was very attractive himself.What a warm, beautiful smile!

    Once again, thank you for sharing such an interesting post, Ron. Have a great week!

    Btw, can you feel the Fall weather coming? It's been so nice to get a break from all that heat and humidity. I can't wait for Fall!

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  22. Hey there Elaine!

    "He was so talented with lighting because he knew how to use it to accentuate the human figure, every bone, muscle and tendon. These are like works of art created from the camera!"

    I LOVE how you said that! And you're right, he was a genius with light; especially using outside natural light.

    That's a good question, but I don't know if he also shot the Calvin Klein jean ads with Brooke Shields. What a great ad that was! It may have been Richard Avedon because he took pics for Calvin Klein.

    Wasn't Herb a handsome man? Great smile :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have an awesome week!
    X

    P.S. YES!!!! I can definitely feel the fall weather coming and I'm sooooooooo happy! We some some really, really lovely cool days last week. Bring on FALL!!!

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  23. "they also secretly hoped that each package of underwear came with its very own Mark Wahlberg - kind of like getting a really great prize in a box of Cracker Jack." LOL! And you're right, Ron, I did!

    These photographs are like works of art than just nudity for just nudity. These are in no way pornographic or offensive, they are incredibly beautiful!

    I love them all but the 5th one down (the bluish tinted pic) and the last one of the girls are my favorites!

    Thanks you for sharing about Herb Ritts, Ron. What a talented man he was! I watch the documentary this weekend because I've been out of town this week. I just got back today.

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  24. Hey ho Robert!

    HA! Didn't you love that ad with Mark Wahlberg? And I love that the ad campaign was shot entirely in black and white because it added so much to the sensuality of the photographs.

    "These photographs are like works of art than just nudity for nudity."

    I agree! And not just the ones I've shared on this post, but all of his nude photographs are done with the same taste. There are several books about Herb Ritts that also share his photographs.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Hope you enjoy the documentary, I found it so interesting and moving.

    Have a fabuloso weekend!
    X

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  25. Ron, wanted to stop back to let you know that I watched the documentary tonight and really enjoyed it! What was so touching to me was how much Herb RItts had affected the lives of those who knew him. He seemed not only talented but also loved and admired by anyone who met him.

    Thank you for sharing the video. I really enjoyed it!

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  26. Aw...thanks so much for stopping back to let me know that you watched the documentary and enjoyed it, Robert!

    I love how you said this...

    " What was so touching to me was how much Herb Ritts affected the lives of those who knew him. He seemed not only extremely talented, but also loved and admired by anyone who met him."

    Meeeee too! It's know that someone is not only talented, but also just a really great person!

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  27. Love Bettie Page, Ron!

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  28. Me too! They used to have a Bettie Page clothing store here in Philly, but they closed it. Bummer!

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  29. I had no idea who the photographer was, but I sure recognize a lot of his work.

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  30. He sure had is own recognizable style, didn't he? What I really loved about his work was that it was both commercial, but also very artistic and unique.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Pat! Have a great week!

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  31. I love this time of the year!

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  32. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee too!

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  33. Hello Ron! I have been busy getting caught up with your July onward posts. Very awkward not being able to comment since the comments were closed.
    Loved your pics of the theatre district in New York! I know how you feel about hating the world & what it's coming to & I admire your determination not to let it get to you by giving yourself up to nature. I am feeling more & more frustrated by the news myself. Your election is driving me nuts. I would hate to be an American right now - to me neither candidate seems like a good choice anymore.
    Have really enjoyed these last 2 posts about the photographers. I have never had a gift for photography like you but I can certainly appreciate great pics. I have been viewing a lot of pics lately - my daughter is in Europe & I'm traveling with her vicariously through her pics.
    This has been an especially hard summer for me - my body is having trouble coping with the allergens of Manitoba again so I have spent a lot of my summer short of breath, staying inside with the air conditioning going because I can't open the windows.
    Hope you are well! I'm glad I was able to catch up with you.

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  34. Hello there Benze! It's soooooooooo great to see you!!!

    I'm so sorry for the frustration of not being able to leave comments on my previous post, but I have my commenting system set up so that comments are automatically closed after 30 days. I do that because I don't want SPAMMERS being able to leave comments on my archive posts.

    I love NYC! In fact, I will be going back this week with my brother, who is visiting my from Florida. I can't wait to take him there because he's never been.

    "I know how you feel about hating the world & what it's coming to & I admire your determination not to let it get to you by giving yourself up to nature. I am feeling more & more frustrated by the news myself. Your election is driving me nuts. I would hate to be an American right now - to me neither candidate seems like a good choice anymore."

    Yes, the election here has turned into one big comedy/drama show. America is going through a lot of stuff right now. You're right, neither candidates are a perfect choice, however, I do know who I am voting for because they seem to be the best choice out of the two.

    "This has been an especially hard summer for me - my body is having trouble coping with the allergens of Manitoba again so I have spent a lot of my summer short of breath, staying inside with the air conditioning going because I can't open the windows."

    So sorry to hear about your health, my friend. I do hope you're feeling better now that the Fall is here. We've had a HORRIBLE summer here too because it was extremely hot and humid for weeks and weeks at a time.

    Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by. It was soooooooo great to catch up with you.

    ((((((((((((((((((((( YOU )))))))))))))))))))))))

    Have a super week!!!!

    X

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