Richard Rutledge - Photographer
In the years following World War II, Condé Nast had a grand photography studio in the Graybar Building in midtown Manhattan. It was stocked with the latest equipment, and a stable of photographers and assistants cranking out fashion spreads, portraits, and product still lifes. One of those studio photographers, Richard Rutledge, is relatively unknown to us today, but for a 15-year period following the war he was one of the most frequently published photographers in Vogue, Glamour, and House & Garden.

Rutledge, who died in Paris one week prior to his 62nd birthday, in the autumn of 1985, might have been called a ‘utility player’ had he been a baseball player instead of a photographer. He was comfortable shooting in black and white or colour; in the studio or outdoors; with SLR or 8×10 plate; fashion, portraits, travel, still life—it was all the same to him. In his own words, he found darkroom work ‘a chore’, what he liked best were the results.

While Rutledge’s black-and-white work is accomplished (his 1953 portrait of a young Jacqueline Bouvier is resplendent in its simplicity), his color work stands above. The color films used during Rutledge’s day have an incredible depth that, when combined with his skillful compositions, produce shockingly modern results. He preferred animated and natural expressions on models, and often used playful banter to coax the person from behind the model’s façade. He also seems to have had a fondness for red; the color is incorporated into nearly every shot.
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