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Photographer Spotlight: Ruven Afanador

October 1, 2011

Before viewing a small gallery of unique celebrity portraits today on the Guardian’s website, I had never heard of Mr. Afanador. After perusing his website, I knew I had to write a blog post about his work. As a fashion and celebrity photographer, Afanador is a leader in his industry, published extensively in magazines, including Vogue, Elle, and Vanity Fair, and working with major clients, such as Christian Dior, Arista, and Elektra, as well as many celebrities.

Born in Columbia in 1959, Afanador didn’t begin making photos until family moved to Michigan in 1972. After they settled into a basement, Ruven made his first shots. His sister, Marta, was his first model. When the dream of being a photographer grew within him, he set up studios in Washington before moving to Milan, where he grew in professional prestige. Designer Jean Paul Gaultier was so inspired by Afanador’s book (Torero, I believe), that he designed an entire collection online (although I haven’t been able to find out more info about that.)

Afanador is represented by Art Department.

What I most appreciate about Afanador’s work is his ability to create a surreal image through extensive art direction, rather than extensive editing. When I see a surreal photo that relies heavily on Photoshop for its artistic vision, I do not believe as much work or talent went into the shoot. Afanador and photographers like him pull out all the stops to set the stage for their shots instead of using heavy editing. This makes the photos even more fantastical…everything is real. Perhaps this is coming from the super-ethical photojournalist within me, but I don’t think Photoshop should be used as a crutch.

And at long last, the photos! These all came directly from his website.

1. Fashion




Celebrity Portraits



3. Books
Afanador has three books, which you can sample on his website. They contain a bit too much nudity for my taste, but there’s some really great work in them as well!


From "Mil Besos"


4. Covers



5. Films
There are also four short films available for viewing on his site. They show the processes and inspirations behind some of his work, which was very cool. If you can handle the interesting editing, they’re definitely worth watching.


Afanador’s work is being exhibited in Colombia until October 9, and will then be in Paris in September. Field trip, anyone?

One Comment leave one →
  1. ipegasus permalink
    October 1, 2011 7:35 pm

    You’ve made me a fan!

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