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On Photography: Rachel Fleminger Hudson, 1998-present

“I engage with clothes as costume. It’s not fashion because it does not seek to be fashionable.” -Rachel Fleminger Hudson

Rachel Fleminger Hudson is a fashion photographer who carefully dresses her subjects with an art historian’s eye for detail.

Inspiring filmmakers

Rachel Fleminger Hudson looks to photography and movies from the 1960s and 70s as her primary inspiration. Filmmakers Ken Russel, Ingmar Bergman, Roman Polanski and Ranier Werner Fasbinder lead her list. Street photographer Iain S. P. Reid, who she describes as an unknown who “took pictures of football fans” inspired one of her best-known images (opening photo, bottom row, 2nd and 3rd images.)

“My father is an art critic… I grew up with art so embedded in my experience of the world that it comes naturally,” she says in an interview with Marie Claire. “In fact, this is something I fight against because when I take pictures I very consciously try not to go for what is instinctively beautiful to me, but I always fail. Taking beautiful pictures is very easy for me because things look beautiful to me. So I wanted to make images that had something difficult. But I always take good nice pictures (laughs). People say the way I edit the colors is too painterly.”

Her art of color

In the interview, she talks about how she works with color in her photographs.

“The colors are all original in the sense that I never add a color that isn’t already there, but I do draw the colors that are there. I’m really trying to see how far I can push the image to reveal things. I like to start with the skin, to see how much detail I can draw. And then all kinds of things appear in the environment, in the lighting, these weird halos appear around people. My teachers are shocked, but I love it (opening photo, top row, all images).”

On Photography: Rachel Fleminger Hudson, 1998-present
Rachel Fleminger Hudson photo courtesyDior


Rachel Felminger Hudson is interested in cultural studies. She struggles with the authenticity of her imagery in fashion photography. She says, “Making images with a purely aesthetic purpose behind it made no sense to me. Now I am beginning to understand that authenticity comes on a material level.”

Clothing collection

“I have a huge collection of clothing from the 1970s that I use to create these characters,” she notes. “The characters are not authentic because they are acted out, and yet they are authentic because a live experience takes place: The people in the photos wear real clothes; they experience a performative reality. In acting, things are fake and real at the same time.”

Rachel Fleminger Hudson has struggled with the realities of fashion and the industry that surrounds it. Sustainability is a concern too. This has led her to explore the context of clothing.

“I consider my work to be both clothing-based and image-based, which makes me much more respectful of the fashion side of the work,” she notes. “For me, it’s the most important part of the process! The research, the construction of identity through the interaction with clothing, through which I understand how it could work within the industry. But still, it’s complicated.

Dior Art of Color Award

Rachel Fleminger Hudson recently won the Dior Art of Color Award for 2022.

Simon Baker, the director of the Maison European of Photography said, “Prix Dior 2022 Laureate Rachel Fleminger Hudson is a new and original voice in photography, balancing great style and balancing her generation’s point of view and an eclectic, finely tuned vision of the past. Using an aesthetic that builds on both theatrical and cinematographic mise-en-scene, cleverly plays with today’s faces in such a way that it evokes, but also ignores existing stereotypes and clichés.”

Rachel Fleminger Hudson is 24 years old. Her future in photography is one to follow closely for inspiration.

Sources: Marie Claire.

Read more stories of inspirational photographers in On Photography.

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Rafael Jones

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