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The Influencers - August Sander & Disfarmer


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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Influencers - August Sander & Disfarmer

A long time ago Etro did an advertising campaign that was inspired by August Sander. I loved that campaign and immediately set out to learn more about Sander.

When I found this book I was struck by the quiet dignity of the everyday people in Sander's images. Not much later I found this book by Disfarmer (below) and was again struck by the quiet grace of his subjects.  

In a very literal way both books influenced my photography - I like to have a very quiet, distant background whenever possible. I love how both Sander's and Disfarmer's subjects really seem to fill the space they are in with their strong personas. I also like that even though these were not shot as fashion images the historical fashion perspective they give us is invaluable.

Comments on "The Influencers - August Sander & Disfarmer"


Blogger Style Scanner said ... (9:15 AM) : 

Extraordinarily characterful images.


Blogger Polkadot said ... (9:20 AM) : 

Very true about the historical fashion perspective :)
I really adore the little girl's shoes. There's an innocence to the whole outfit which I think is captured by the practical (yet slightly over-sized...probably to grow into?) lace-ups.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:35 AM) : 

Like this girl you shot in Venice, she is in water and her arms are like two birds ! Incredible pic ! Sunny


Blogger bebojo said ... (9:37 AM) : 

I am a huge fan of Disfarmer, the quality and quantity of his work is incredible. The truth of his photographs is beautiful. Thank you for shining a light on a past that would otherwise be forgotten - especially by the 'fashion forward.'


Anonymous Taevon Palmer said ... (9:37 AM) : 

excellent images a well developed book


Blogger geezi said ... (9:47 AM) : 

Notice the way the girl's feet are at an angle? Gives feeling as if its a child's drawing instead of a picture. They say god is in the details. Here s why.


Blogger Baron said ... (9:52 AM) : 

Sander's work is particularly powerful because of the political climate surrounding it. Much of his work was destroyed by the Nazis as it showed that Germany had many faces and not just the aryan face. The shot of the three young farmers on their way to the dance is perfect - they seem to be caught mid-stride rather than posed.
I enjoy your blog very much.


Blogger Unknown said ... (9:58 AM) : 

Speaking of inspiration. Found this quote today, thought you'd enjoy.

"A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them."
— Hardy Amies

That is all.


Blogger Hawa said ... (9:58 AM) : 

love your way with words whilst describing your inspirations....and i love how you dont put extra bs jargon....your words are as honest as your imagery!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:02 AM) : 

Also the way the little girl's feet point to her left, yet her torso is straight forward to the camera. Unusual stance and captures the attention!


Blogger Anita Puksic said ... (10:05 AM) : 

"I also like that even though these were not shot as fashion images the historical fashion perspective they give us is invaluable" - true, I like this too.

Peace and love!


Blogger RW said ... (10:08 AM) : 

Scott, Bill Frisell recently released a Jazz CD called Disfarmer inspired by Michael Disfarmer's photos.


Blogger amanda james said ... (10:27 AM) : 

i like sanders photographies too. i had ti give a lecture about him and his art and since then i like him very much


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:34 AM) : 

Really, really thrilled that you are sharing this. You're a wonderful inspiration (and I don't even work in the arts field). Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:57 AM) : 

have a look at Larry Towel's book The Mennonites


Blogger Flora Márquez said ... (10:58 AM) : 

The people of your photos is distant, misterious, and sometimes it seems that they are from another time. I can see the influence!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:00 AM) : 

I felt the same way about portraits of early photography. Compared to our age, there were less people in the late 19th (less than 1/3) and little media to shape who one was. People must have had a lot more room to develop their quirks.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:10 AM) : 

"The quiet dignity of everyday people." Beautiful words, Scott.

Looking at the three gents on the cover of "Citizens of the twentieth century," I was reminded of my grandfather who lived most of his life in a tiny little mountain village of Southern Italy. A mountain man of few words, intense resolve, morals and a sense of staunch dignity. He knew his place in the world.

He was a shepherd and I have fond memories of him. Whether he was shepherding, collecting olives, turning a pig into salamis or telling the priest to get out of his way, I never saw him in anything other than black three-piece suits, a black hat and cane. Fierce.

I see grandfathers of today playing computer games, wearing hip-hop shorts and getting their Depends in a knot if their cappuccino is not adequately frothy.

I realize just how fortunate I was during my early days raised in the presence of men who broadcast quiet dignity.

I'll be looking for that book. Thanks.



Anonymous The Photodiarist said ... (11:11 AM) : 

As much as I love your statements about style, I have always wanted to hear about your photography and your influences. I am so glad that you are doing this series!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:22 AM) : 

a friend gave me the Disfarmer book years ago and i was enthralled by every image in it. it really is one of the best photography books of all time, not only photos but every aspect of the book. there is very much a connection between your style and Disfarmer, a connection with and respect for the subject.


Anonymous UNordinaryChic said ... (11:48 AM) : 

i totally agree that these "ordinary" people just fill up the space with their strong personas. The young girl in the last photo makes me want to grab a shoe and sock combo like hers.



Anonymous Kate G. said ... (12:00 PM) : 

Sanders and Disfarmer are terrific portrait shooters, aren't they?

What has always interested me is that Disfarmer's subjects came to him. He was the town's portrait man. Using glass plates and a north facing skylight, he captured the faces of a generation as casually as a county fair photographer.

I think Penn's Small Rooms and Avedon's later portraits owe an homage to Disfarmer. He had an extraordinary eye for people.


Anonymous Fleurs said ... (1:18 PM) : 

Extraordinary photographers.
I also got the books and I'm happy to own them.

In my view it's the subject and the lucky moment, not the photographer :)


Anonymous BookSexy said ... (1:42 PM) : 

I'm a Sander fan (ever since I saw a show at the Met several years ago). I think the similarities are part of what drew me to your work. You definitely are carrying on the torch.


Anonymous Gillian Young said ... (2:08 PM) : 

I admired your book in Colette today and think you do all of this very well. You let people speak for themselves through your photographs. The book is beautiful and I am planning a trip back to buy it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:53 PM) : 

Unless I am clearly overlooking the obvious, these chap's brollies seem to be missing something in the weather protection department & would be of little use in the present English climate, I'd proffer.

I remain, &c.
Alexander Dyle


Blogger Ms. B @ Millie Deel said ... (3:40 PM) : 

Wow, wonderful books! Thank you for bringing them to our attention!


Anonymous vavavinny said ... (3:57 PM) : 

Sanders may be my favorite portraitist. His images, no matter the subject- from cook, to homeless man, to student, to aristocrat, to secretary- always maintain an air of sophistication and elegance, proving that anyone from any walk of life can be worth photographing and immortalizing.


Anonymous Lola said ... (4:16 PM) : 

First photo was the inspiration for the book by Richard Powers "Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance" ;-)


Blogger JustNorman said ... (4:52 PM) : 

very simple. classic
the blog that no one knows about


Anonymous skibummin1 said ... (5:11 PM) : 

first I love the 3 men they could be turn of the century farmers,sheep herders,mafiosa etc

I love the girls pose how her feet pointed to the left. I hate the pidgeon toed shots now a days with models. Where did that come from. Trying to be innocent,cutsey


Anonymous henri said ... (6:11 PM) : 

subtle accentuation is an art i've yet to master


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:58 PM) : 

Sanders reveals the spirit and the guts of all her captures. Thank you for sharing these.


Anonymous said ... (10:12 PM) : 

Cotton moleskin coats and canes. Is it just me or do all their shoes look unusually large?



Anonymous a mya said ... (11:24 PM) : 

This reminds me that in Wim Wenders' brilliant film "Notebook on Cities and Clothes" Yoshi Yamamoto shows his dogeared copy of August Sander book as inspiration for his collection.

Thank you for combining my two loves of photography and fashion into one place! I love your blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:49 PM) : 

I like Sanders, too, but hope to see more street photography of yours again soon...


Anonymous downunderboy said ... (4:24 AM) : 

Dearest Darling Sart -
As you appear to be having a touch of nostalgia at the minute, you might like to check out the blog " A time to Get". Particularly his post from the 31st of August called "We all slip up at some point". You've probably already seen it, but as one poster commented - "They just don't make 'em like they used to" I hope you enjoy.

Keep up the awesome work - regardless of whether I agree with you or not - you always brighten my day.


Blogger Unknown said ... (5:09 AM) : 

I love August Sanders! I have had the Farmers as my Mac background for 7 years and have a large framed print on my wall - since I was 14. So very inspiring!


Blogger Francesca Colussi said ... (7:07 AM) : 

I received your book this morning, while I was preparing my tea. My tea was undrinkable cold when I finisched to look at your pictures.
I totally agree with your introduction. It's not just about skirts and heels, isn't it?
It's not just a book about fashion. It tells me more. I can read stories in it.
Your inspirations did a good job!


Blogger No Salvation said ... (7:58 AM) : 

I just recieved your book through the post this morning. It's even more beautiful, articulate, intelligent and inspiring than I expected.

I expect in a few years someone will make a post like this on a blog about how your work inspired them.

Keep up the good work!


Blogger Lucas Jones said ... (10:19 AM) : 

Scott - Thanks for sharing these! I love this Influencers series! (And the book! You did great :) )

Keep it up!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:58 AM) : 

May I recommend checking out the work ofOrtiz Echague - a Spanish photographer from the turn of the century (19th to 20th that is). I think you'll like his work too.


Blogger alvnkvnn said ... (5:50 PM) : 

i love these covers, they look so classic.


Blogger wideyed said ... (1:15 PM) : 

Disfarmer is amazing! I love that book.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:57 PM) : 

I wonder if you've ever seen Edouard Boubat's photos of Lella. Your photos remind me of them.


Blogger Penny S said ... (11:33 AM) : 

If you're in Paris on Wednesday, there is a Sander exhibit opening at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson (


Anonymous Michelle said ... (7:12 PM) : 

These photographs are strikingly beautiful. I've always loved a quiet stillness and photos, and they really have that quality. Thanks for the post.


Blogger Unknown said ... (10:19 PM) : 

I don't know any thing at all about fashion. Seriously nothing. But, I can tell that I love those pictures. Very cool. Subtle. Awesome!


Anonymous °°matias said ... (4:44 PM) : 

The photos shot by Sander are just awesome - and were kind of revolutionary when he startet with it... the normal people of german cities in the 20s, the years of the weimarer republic - almost unbelievable, that only a few years later, the same country, that once had the "most democratic republic" was become a country of terror and war - just can´t get over it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:11 PM) : 

a magazine in Arkansas recently published a fabulous article on Disfarmer and included several of his photos. I was unfamiliar with his work until this article came out and now I'm a huge fan. It's great to see you reference him on your blog. He unknowingly contributed greatly to the world of fashion & photography through his portrayal of the everyday rural American.
The article may still be on their website, not sure though. It's and was in their August issue


Blogger YSMN. said ... (2:52 PM) : 

wow I love it!


Anonymous Sandra said ... (8:45 PM) : 

Could anyone please! tell me what was the year and season of the mentioned Etro ad campaign. I am busting my brain on a paper about fashion advertisement and I really liked the Disfarmer, so it would be a great subject.


Blogger Valéry Lorenzo said ... (11:54 AM) : 

All right.
Congratulations !


Anonymous edelyn said ... (7:08 PM) : 

I am very disturbed by the angle of the girl's feet versus the position of her body facing the camera. It makes me think it is indeed but great shots! I adore it.


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