Peter Coulson is The black and white photographer, his blacks are profound and intense, giving a theatrical rendering as well as a deliciously dramatic tension. Women are embedded in his images like fixed-gazed, imperturbable modern goddesses.
The style is impactful, the décor is minimalist, even rare. The space is that of his studio, on a white background, most of the time empty, in order to persuade the spectator to focus on the model, and on the most important part: her eyes, the very essence of the image.
No erotic connotations or exacerbated sensuality is to be found in Peter’s work. Women do not smile. They are modern nymphs; young, cold, pagan virgin beauties with emaciated faces.
Inspired by people, places, objects, world events and most importantly by light itself; Peter pays particular attention to the rendering of emotions.
Peter currently resides in Melbourne, Australia where he was born in 1961. He specialized in Beauty, Fashion and what he calls “fetishized photography”. According to him, each of his photographs is a mixture of sensuality, strength, mystery and elegance – reflected and inspired by his personal thought processes and clear-cut concepts.
When Peter takes a shot, he looks for simplicity, negative spaces, shadows and the possibility to tell a multitude of stories in a single image. His style is influenced by many artists like Ansel Adams, Patrick Demarchelier, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh or Helmut Newton. He tries to capture a story, a movement or an emotion in a unique setting. His great achievement: being able to generate the enthrallment of the spectator in front of his image, enable to readily tear away from it.
Why does the female body inspire you ?
It is not just females, the human body inspires me. But the reason you do not see much/any male work is because they are a lot harder to shoot. I have trouble getting men to let go and express, they have too many hang-ups, especially in front of a camera. Another issue I find it males worry more about the way they look. For example, if I shoot a beautiful photograph of a female, she will say “This is so amazing I love it so much!”, where as a male looks closely at their photo and says “My eyebrow looks uneven!”
What is your criteria for beauty? In other words how is the Coulson’s Model?
Beauty is all in the inside. Someone who is pretty on the outside, but ugly on the inside, is somebody I cannot get a good photo of.
What are the good qualities of a model ?
A model who doesn’t care. Somebody that can let go, feel emotion, doesn’t feel the camera, almost like a great actor.
Why do you prefer (most of the time) shooting in black and white ?
It is timeless. If you look at colour photos, the colour gradients change every few 2-3 year circle, and people refer the colouring to eras. Black and white also brings the attention always back to the most important thing; the models eyes. And I prefer to play with luminosity instead of colour.
- Meet Peter Coulson in Normal Magazine n°1 & 8 -