British fashion photographer Miles Aldridge is famed for his vivid, highly stylised photographs, saturated in colour but drained of emotion. His models stare blankly at nightmarish explosions of ketchup or broken crockery in recurring pastiches of 1950s domesticity.
His photographs are meticulously crafted, his frames arranged and composed with all the precision of a painter (he’s also an accomplished sketch artist and his father Alan was an illustrator). To help him get the perfect shot, Aldridge often uses Polaroid photographs, which he then sketches onto or folds to help him visualise his final shot.
These Polaroids, taken over a period of more than 20 years, form a candid window into the artistic process of one of our most celebrated fashion photographers. A selection chosen by Aldridge went on display last month at Lyndsey Ingram on Jermyn Street, and they have been collected in a new book, Please Return Polaroid.
It offers a fascinating new perspective on images that have acquired iconic status; snaps such as a lip-stick smeared cigarette stubbed out in a fried egg, which would end up as a double-page spread in Vogue (it took 36 eggs to get the final picture).
Isolated from the images they would eventually become, the Polaroids take on a beauty all of their own, a kind of faded, ethereal glimpse into an uncanny world, somewhere both familiar and distant. If you consider yourself a student of fashion, you should have this book on your coffee table.