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Paolo Pellegrin: Storm

Magnum's annual photo magazine features the work of the acclaimed documentary photographer, whose clients inlcude Newsweek and New York Times...

For their annual magazine, Magnum have selected the outstanding documentary photographer Paolo Pellegrin to take the visual lead for this year’s edition. Pellegrin is an acclaimed reportage specialist who has a contract with Newsweek and regularly photographs for the New York Times. He has also been awarded countless photography prizes including several World Press Photo Awards. The title of this year’s magazine is Storm, which Pellegrin explains, “made sense because the issue we wanted to address in this magazine, other than fashion, was a mood of transition. Storm is a mood which worked with the content we had and the chord we wanted to strike.”

Naturally, the award winning photographer, more accustomed to capturing images of war zones or stunning natural environments, found working within the context of a fashion magazine a challenge but he revelled in the editorial freedom not usually afforded to photographers working in reportage and was even able to bring on board two writers of his own suggestion, designer Bruce Mau and anthropologist Marc AugÈ. “It’s not what I usually do,” says Pellegrin, “but I was interested in the sense that I took it as a challenge to explore a field of which I know little about. But it also had some of the issues and elements that I normally deal with which are form and aesthetic beauty, so there were at least, from a formal point of view, some points in common. It was a challenge to use my eye and my vision in this other field. Having said that, the magazine has a lot of other things that are not about fashion, there is a presence of fashion but there are other elements. It is more complex than a fashion magazine.”

Pellegrin has employed many of his award-winning documentary and photojournalism techniques and transferred them to a fashion setting. He says that when shooting the fashion stories he often found himself trying to emulate a documentary scenario. He explains that with reportage the whole foundation is “you want to be as invisible as you can so you don’t intervene”, whereas, “here it’s the opposite, so here I have a model and as much as I try to let them do what they want I am still directing the proceedings in a sense so the nature of the relationship is completely modified.”
The results are masterful images with a raw genuine feel. “For me, they are more portraits of a person,” says Pellegrin, “I’m less interested in the dress and more interested in the psychological tension and a bridge with the subject, which in this case happens to be a model. That’s where I concentrate my focus and maybe that is different to how a fashion photographer might work.”

Other contributors to Storm include designers Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney, architect Norman Foster and director Alejandro Jodorowsky. With a print run of 8,000, Storm will be distributed worldwide in selected libraries, museums and concept stores. Launched in Florence at the Pagliere on June 16th It is available across Europe from July 2nd.