The Replacement Girl 25/90. Derujinsky, Gleb. Miami Beach, 1955.
One of his contemporaries once called Gleb Derujinsky a ‘road-show Avedon’. But it’s hard to imagine Derujinsky minding too much — not when he was busy racing round the planet, pushing the still-young discipline of location photography to wildly ambitious new heights. He wasn’t the first, of course; both Vogue and Bazaar had been shooting the couture collections on the streets of Paris since war’s end, and pioneers like Toni Frissell and Louise Dahl-Wolfe had shot memorable editorials in Peru, Sicily, Jamaica and Southern Spain in the early Fifties. But Derujinsky, pushed by Bazaar, went beyond — to India, to Turkey, to Acapulco, to Thailand, to Japan. And where his predecessors had deployed exotic locations as colourful backdrops, to models whose poise still screamed of studio artifice, Derujinsky was part of a wave of names whose work reinvented the genre, immersing his subjects (and the viewer) in believable, exciting activity.
But he could be just as effective at conjuring magic out of nothing (a skill honed by years spent on basic studio set-ups, doomed to languish in Bazaar’s back pages). In 1955, he flew to Miami Beach to shoot a Greta Plattry campaign with Barbara Mullen and Ruth Neumann — a close friend of Mullen’s, and Derujinsky’s future wife. There would have been no shortage of glamorous Moderne settings to choose from, in the booming midcentury resort. But the campaign’s strongest image posed the two side by side against a flat white wall, their arms angled to mirror each others. Mullen, in a halterneck and pleated trousers, stares down the barrel of the lens; amused and defiant, her eyes and lips are compressed to dark slashes, her mannish stance offsetting Neumann’s gracefully feminine pose.
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