Urban Landscape Photography by Eliot Siegel: a study of the High Streets of great international cities.
I discovered a curiosity for shop windows back in my Milan and Paris days between 1984 & 1989, but it wasn’t until ten years later that I embarked on a mad escapade; searching out the most creative, provocative displays, mostly in London, where I’ve lived and worked most of my adult life. In 1999 I was standing in front of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, about to enter the store and enjoy it’s seasonal super-sale.
I was considering one particular window that was seriously provocative, and I wondered how they managed to get away with such a display in a world full of goody two shoes. There were several beautifully sculpted female mannequins, golden gilt and dressed in the most fine, sensual of lingerie, arms outstretched to the sky, one of them being caressed by a handsome metrosexual male mannequin. I gasped, and although I had my camera with me, I tried my best to resist photographing the scene, hopelessly failing.
I’ve been a fashion photographer most of my adult life, and saw this style of imaging as a fashion issue at first, but after processing the images realized that it was actually much more, giving credibility to my burgeoning desire to capture these wonderfully created micro-environments.
On analysis, what our eyes are seeing in these exquisite windows is different to what the camera sees.
We walk past a shop window and see clothing on a mannequin. I realized that what I was organising in my frame was not only the photographic sensuality of the mannequin and the creative set design, but the reflections of the world outside the window, burning itself into the image alongside the passers by and various external elements. It’s often difficult to know where the display ends and the environmental reflections begin. The quality of light and time of day also has a keen effect on the outcome of these images. As the
‘process’ of composing these images is more or less completed, I realise that I’ve been drawn into photographing them by their sensual, often erotic qualities, brought to life by the genius of set designers and mannequin sculptors, for those who can afford to appreciate the finer things in life.