Friday, March 05, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Lord Snowdon, photographer

Time to feature another photographer - one with Sun in Pisces and an interesting backstory would be good. How about Anthony Armstrong Jones aka Lord Snowdon, once husband of the late Princess Margaret of the UK? It'll be his birthday on Sunday.
(Below: Meeting the Beatles in 1965)

If we can believe all we read (highly questionable) Lord Snowdon could easily compete with Tiger Woods in the amorous encounters department - before, during and after his various marriages. That's not the area with which I need to focus my attention though, in an arty farty post his photography must take pride of place.

A few quotes about his work (for links see end of post):
Lord Snowdon.... is a master of illusion. His work incorporates elements that can defy reality yet also convey the essence of a subject. An area of particular focus has been portraiture, which has allowed Snowdon to photograph a range of people spanning the great to the ordinary. Snowdon strives to capture a unique aspect from his portrait subjects and will research their background in order to achieve his goal.

A studio shoot with Lord Snowdon is quite often an uncomfortable experience. He has an uncanny ability to see through even the toughest facades, to strip pretensions, and by removing whatever pride his sitters arrive with, reveal the truth. Although famous for his charm and perfect manners, he likes to unnerve. This approach, coupled with his instinct to press the shutter at exactly the right moment, has made him a world famous photographer.

Despite this well-honed, well-known technique he has no recognisable photographic style, and indeed for the last half-century has made efforts to avoid developing one. He feels that as a photographer his role is to become an invisible observer, coaxing the truth out of his subjects without turning the result into a ‘Snowdon’.

In 1962 .... he embarked on a series of touching pictures examining old age, finally published in 1965, the first of a number of commissions that dealt with social issues. He photographed a fourteen page article on British theatre in 1966 that coined the phrase ‘swinging London’, and he travelled to India, Japan and Italy for the magazine at various points during the decade..... From 1960 to 1965 he was commissioned to design a new aviary for London Zoo. The project, now a grade II listed building, took five years to complete and remains one of Snowdon’s proudest achievements. He won two Emmys for a television documentary, Don’t Count the Candles in 1968, and was also made responsible for the overall design of the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969.

By 1970 he was back working for Vogue, back working at the level of intensity that suited his drive, and was one of the most in-demand photographers in the country. His output from the decade is huge; he made six television documentaries, published seven books of his own work, held exhibitions in Cologne, London, the Far East, and Australia, whilst all the time contributing to the publications he helped define. This tireless attitude to work has continued to the present day.
He has published four books since turning seventy, still travels extensively, and refuses point-blank to bask in the indelible reputation that he has worked hard at since 1952.

Lord Snowdon obviously has art in his blood. His great-grandfather was the Punch cartoonist and photographer Linley Sambourne (1845-1910), and his uncle was the legendary theatre, ballet and opera designer Oliver Messel (1904-1978).

With Neptune (the creative/photography planet) smack-dab on the descendant angle, one of the most potent points in the zodiac circle, it'd be very strange to find the chart belonged to someone not creative in one way or another. Sun, and Venus (planet of the arts) are conjoined in Neptune's rulership, Pisces, and lie in semi-sextile to another pair of personal planets: Mercury/Mars conjoined nextdoor in Aquarius, adding an energetically intellectual flavour to Lord Snowdon's nature. Pisces rising puts yet another layer of emphasis on his Neptunian traits. Moon and Jupiter in Gemini - another pair of conjoined personal planets reflect his outgoing, sociable and versatile side, and are in sextile to Uranus in Aries, bringing in a touch of the unexpected; maybe this is more relevant to his private life and reputedly bohemian choice of lifestyle, rather than to his art.

Sources: Google Image and






Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles & Princess Anne









Wisewebwoman said...

His work is so evocative of an era, T, n'est pas?
And he truly glamouized his princess(es)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes, it is. :-)
He was the first breath of fresh air allowed into the stale and stodgy Brit royal family.

Twilight said...

This comment managed to publish under the wrong post, so i've copied it here - where I suspect it belongs:


"Tony" is devine and supposedly was a great favorite of the Queen Mother. I am reading a recent biography of him which gossip aside (although) its' great fun), as a photographer, I enjoyed reading about his professional life. His work with the aged and infirmed is by far the best on this subject.

March 11, 2010 9:30 AM

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ I can well imagine the Queen Mother's feelings!
He did seem to be a charmer of the first order. :-)