Having spent the last four decades photographing
nudes, still lifes, landscapes, fashion, beauty and
Americana, Robert Farber has become a master of
his craft. But getting to a place where his work is in
demand by international galleries and major fashion
and advertising clients came as the result of trial and
error and developing a consistent style.
We caught up with the photographer, who’s currently working with ChromaLuxe—print medium partner for PDN’s The Curator exhibition at Milk Gallery in
New York City on August 10—on the prints for a retrospective that will appear at the PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo later this year.
PDN: How did your photography career begin?
ROBERT FARBER: My first love was for art and paint-
ing. I’m self-taught in photography, and my technical
mistakes in film—the graininess, not knowing what
kind of film I should be using, the resulting soft tones—
produced a painterly effect that became my signature
style. My career started off in a unique way: My fine-
art work and my commercial work in fashion photog-
raphy came to fruition at the same time. It all began at
an outdoor art show in New York City where a creative
director took notice of my photography. In 1976, my
first book, Images of Woman, was published. At the
same time I got my first commercial assignment—a
fashion ad for Cotton Incorporated. And then Jacque-
line Kennedy Onassis gave me a stamp of approval
when she commissioned me for a book at Doubleday,
By the Sea. Let’s just say it all happened by accident.
PDN: Your aesthetic has remained the same with
both film and digital media. How did you make
the transition so smoothly?
RF: Digital doesn’t have the same personality as
film, so I started using a point-and-shoot to capture
interesting effects with filters in camera, playing with
the ISO to get blur and soft focus and digital noise to
evoke the graininess of my film images.
PDN: You’ve been printing on metal for a while
now. How did you get into it?
RF: A few years ago I met Alan Blazar, founder of
Blazing Editions, when he saw my work on display at
Art Miami. He introduced me to the idea of printing
my photographs on metal—something his company
specializes in. So I started experimenting with ChromaLuxe’s aluminum surfaces, which use the process
of dye sublimation to infuse images onto the metal.
What’s great about printing on metal, besides its richness, is that I can get any surface I want out of the