￼A 400-page collective of photographer Albert Watson’s work, UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives is an artwork in and of itself and a jewel for anyone’s bookshelf, to be slowly flipped through time and time again.
Scottish-born Albert Watson has been active as a photographer since the 1970s and has been named by Photo District News, along with icons such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time. While he is still active as a photographer to this day, most of his work and probably his best remains as black-and-white, never failing to convey depth in the subjects’ expressions and often relying on clean, simple but meaningful surroundings to create a perfect environment for the photograph.
Gathering photographs from the 1970s up to 2010, year of its latest edition, the book serves as a showcase and summary of Albert Watson’s career as a fashion photographer and blurs the line between fashion and artistic photography. Most of the book is dedicated to his portraiture work, featuring celebrities in the cinema, fashion and music industries, as well as several catalogue and campaign shoots for Prada and other brands along the years. There is also a large amount of editorial work for Rolling Stone, Details, Vogue Italia and Vogue UK amongst other magazines and his renowned series of “Mob Stories” from around the world. Some of these pictures are iconic – like the famous portrait of Steve Jobs, the group shot of Nine Inch Nails or the photographic motion reports of Michael Jackson dancing or Jack Nicholson smoking – but, then again, so is Albert Watson.
UFO makes a difference and a point by not being organized chronologically – the images that are placed together in double page spreads are often more than fifteen years apart in age. This was very intentional, as Albert Watson himself states in the final pages of the book: “We date everything accurately [now]. So it is interesting to juxtapose something from 1978 with 2004, and so on. To not do so would be to miss an opportunity to examine how these images work for us today. The contrasts add something, especially when you find strange connections between images that are thirty years apart.”