Self Portrait (Film Test)
Great Titchfield Street,
Bronwyn Kidd (born 1969) is an Australian photographer known for fashion and portraiture.
Bronwyn’s dream of emulating her magazine heroes and to support herself with photography was realised early. She taught herself colour printing at high school and left RMIT before finishing her degree, impatient to become a professional like those for whom she worked in a series of internships and assistant gigs around Melbourne. This was an experience that built an intimate understanding of who was who in the industry, how they had got there, and what she needed to realise her ambition.
In 1992, aged barely 23, Bronwyn ventured into the larger universe of the commercial scene in London. Guided by sheer determination, she found a welcome in the studios of fellow Australian Polly Borland and Clive Arrowsmith She began to build a network of technicians, assistants and printers from which she would assemble the teams needed to fulfil the high production standards she set herself. It was not long before her work attracted the attention of the Queen's couturier Sir Hardy Amies. Her career was set on a higher trajectory when she was commissioned to shoot exclusively for his Savile Row seasonal collections and magazine advertising.
Bronwyn’s style is nostalgic for the greats of haute couture photography, and transmits vivid evocations to anyone steeped in the ineluctable mirage of the glossy page. Ripping the seamless backdrop she uncovers a witty iconoclasm that recalls the Beaton of the 1930s. Directing her models as they graciously drape and swoon in aloof clusters across spacious drawing rooms she evokes the cool sophistication of Norman Parkinson. Her nuanced hues might be the colours of an achingly lyric Sarah Moon or Deborah Turbeville romance, but she is unafraid to spoof the masculine melodrama of Helmut Newton and Alex Prager.
With the merest suggestion she can summon up the drama of cinema like Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’ of 1993, or Thorold Dickinson’s 1940 ‘Gaslight’. In her photographs she conjures desire—not for the female model who poses for her, but for the viewer’s narrative of self image. Her own consumption of others’ pictures has cultivated a voracious visual literacy.
The same curiosity has driven Bronwyn’s association and familiarity with fashion designers themselves. At this stage of her career, her fastidiously preserved archive stretches back into a former era to form a unique historical record. The National Portrait Gallery in London which houses her portraits of prominent designers Bella Freud, Bruce Oldfield (OBE) and Caroline Charles (OBE), recently asked to use her photograph of Jimmy Choo for a new publication 100 Fashion Icons; one hundred portraits of key fashion figures from their collection.
Likewise in Australia, to which she returned when her father was mortally ill in 2004, Bronwyn photographed Australian icons; actress Teresa Palmer, and photographer Bill Henson, Judge Betty King, Vicki Roach, Philip Lynch, Rob Story, Fiona Smith, Kon Karapanagiotidis, Maxine Morand, Daniel Andrews, Helen Silver, Rod Eddington, Lindsay Tanner, Greg Hunt, Bernie Finn, Carole Francis, and artists Sam Leach and Gareth Samson.
In Australia much of her work was expanded into advertising. In 2016 she drew together the threads of marketing and fashion in a co-creation with long time collaborator creative director Virginia Dowzer of an historical photo montage, with models in a contemporary but fantastic setting, to promote the National Gallery of Victoria’s 200 Years of Australian Fashion Exhibition, and in 2020 they have created the first bespoke campaign image for Bendigo Art Gallery's "'Piinpi': Contemporary Indigenous Fashion".
Dr. James McArdle