I was all set to write a post about glitzy party looks from the 60's Mod era when I came across these photos in the December 1966 issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine. They look great in the magazine, but the artistic quality of the photos didn't strike me until I had scanned the images and was able to view them on my computer screen. Looking for a photography credit, I found the word "Hiro" in tiny letters.
Yasuhiro Wakabayashi, professionally known as Hiro, was born in Shanghai in 1930 to Japanese parents. He came to the US in 1954, and by the end of 1956 was an apprentice to fashion photographer Richard Avedon. He worked for Avedon for 1 year, then started his own career. He made significant contributions as a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar from 1956 to 1975. His surreal and unique images are noted for the use of uncommon lighting, the juxtaposition of unexpected elements, and his signature use of color.
You can see those qualities in these images from the fashion spread "The Far Side of the Moon" in Bazaar, December 1966. Taken in the desert at sunset, these photos show Hiro's brilliant use of light. I can just imagine the frenzy behind the scenes as Hiro rushed to capture the different qualities of light as the sun set.
The photo above was taken when the sun had slipped behind the mountain in the background. The camera's flash catches the sparkle and shimmer of the outfit in a uniquely vivid manner. The dress by Bill Blass for Maurice Rentner is covered in silver paillette sequins. The silver streamers necklace is by Paco Rabanne and the rhinestone earrings are by Kenneth Lane.
This image was taken while the sun was just above the horizon. With a different use of lighting, the bottom portion of the dress disappears into darkness with just one glint to suggest that it is full length. The dress is by Pat Sandler. The silver sequinned snood is by Mr. John.
In a different use of the sunlight, Hiro captures a ray of light in front of the model with his camera. It appears as if the sun is still high in the sky and behind the model. The ray of light was probably caused by the use of a mirror. The silver knit sweater by Anne Rubin is covered with silver paillettes. The sculpted silver jersey helmet is by Mr. John.
Want to learn more about Hiro? A restropective of his career "Hiro: Photographs" was published in 1999. You can find it through my Amazon recommendations at the right.