David Hamilton

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All photographs © David Hamilton

In my pursuit to discover sublimely poetic and romantic pieces of photography and art from more photographers and arty farty people I came across David Hamilton. Lolita-esque indeed! But before I start waffling about my newfound love for Hamilton, allow me to give some insight about him.

David Hamilton (age 79) is a British born French photographer notably known for his images of young women. His dreamy, filmic style soon brought him great success in the photographic world. Hamilton’s success has included numerous photographic books with combined sales well into the millions; five feature films, countless magazine publications, and museum and gallery exhibitions. And it’s understandable why.

The first selection of work I came across by David Hamilton was his photo book, ‘Age of Innocence’. For me he captures the very essence of adolescence beauty, thin-limbs, natural hair, round faces and unblemished complexions. However, I must admit whilst browsing through the images I did feel a slight sense of guilt. The girls are clearly pre to pubescent and appear nude so it’s not shocking to hear that David Hamilton’s work has come under fire. His work has been at the forefront for ‘is it art or pornography?’ debate since the beginning. Nonetheless, despite the controversy, you can’t deny the beauty and quality within the images and I wouldn’t say they’re pornographic at all. I think what made me feel a little on edge was how erotic the girls come across within the images, probably unknowingly on their part. They all possess a certain erotic character but due to their age and obvious naivety still retain that youthful innocence. The images have subtle colour tones and a dream-like, soft focus quality reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides and Lolita. You may even mistake some of the images for aged oil paintings. Sublime. Alongside the images are quotes from various poets, writers and unknowns about youth. It’s refreshing and saddening to think how fast youth goes by. I mean I’m 19 and wish I were 12 again! This got me thinking about how words alongside images can reinforce your own feelings, food for thought.

The second selection of images I pondered over are from, ‘Dreams of a Young Girl’ his first book which takes up a slightly lighter tone than that of ‘Age of Innocence’. A girly blend of flowers, green fields, dressing up, ballet shoes, day dreaming, lace and fabrics all come into play here but still possess that soft focus and subtle colour tone. Another selection of photos I came across were from his book ‘Les Demoiselles’ which are very intimate and focus on relation between a small group of girls.

I really love David Hamilton’s photography. I’m falling in love with this soft focus, poetic dreaminess you can achieve through pastel colours, nice lighting and focusing on feminine materials and young females.

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