Acclaimed photographer Amy Arbus visited the New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus to speak to Photography school students. Arbus’ work has been featured in many periodicals such as Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and New York Magazine, and is featured in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library, and the New York Public Library. Amy’s family has been renowned for their photography — she is the daughter of legendary photographer Diane Arbus, and is also the sister of famed Doon Arbus.
Her 80s street style column for Village Voice On the Street is considered one of her seminal works. “Photographers‘ first stuff is what sticks,” Arbus told NYFA students. She captured celebrities on the streets of New York City, including a young Madonna just before the release of her debut album. Her column also included British punk rockers, The Clash, in their prime.
Of her project, Ladies of the Night, Arbus said, “I broke every rule that I was ever taught.” These photos were taken in secret, from afar, without comprising
the subjects’ anonymity. Throughout the lecture, Arbus repeatedly referenced the romanticism of those photographs. Her influences also include Film Noir and Modernist Art.
During a master class with Richard Avedon in 1992, Arbus resolved some of her emotions surrounding her mother’s death (Diane Arbus died by suicide in her bath when Amy was 17). Her Tubs Pictures is a series of nude self-portraits taken in a bathtub and were featured by Avedon in his article on Amy Arbus in Aperture’s Photographers on Photographers issue 151.
One specific piece of Avedon’s advice that still motivates her to this day was a fitting message to the students in attendance: “You’ve got to contribute something to the medium… you have to do something unique.”
Arbus is in the midst of her new series Outsiders, seen below, via her Instagram.