After a Fashion
This week, join the Style Avatar for the second installment in a series about local fashion photographers.
IT'S TODD TIME The term "commercial photographer" -- a phrase that conjures up some Johnnie-on-the-spot who will shoot everything from your mug shot to your wedding portrait -- hardly suits Todd V. Wolfson. The garrulous Wolfson so skillfully wrangles the art of photography that your mug shot might wind up being the best photo of you ever taken, and your wedding portrait a split-second in eternity captured, revealing aspects of you that you never dreamed visible.
"Todd is really a pioneer of the Austin scene," says Chronicle staff writer (and your Style Avatar's sister) Margaret Moser. "In the earlier years, he, along with Roy Fredericks and Mark Guerra, understood that 'image' was where the arc between music and fashion met. These guys were not afraid to go out in the clubs where the fashion was happening, and not only mirror it, but create it, as well." Documenting the local scene for more than 20 years, he is most visible for his musical work, winning this paper's 2000 Best of Austin Readers Poll for Best Photographer. By the sheer number of cover shots he's racked up, he may be Austin's most visible photographer. He has shot such luminaries as Alejandro Escovedo, Bob Schneider, Sara Hickman, Ian Moore, Rosie Flores, Tish Hinojosa, the Reivers, and 81é2 Souvenirs, among others, including all the visiting rock royalty that passes through. He is the omnipresent force present at every local style event, with a way of getting not only what he wants out of a photograph, but of giving the subject what they want to see.
"I don't know why I do art. I just know it's all I can do," says Wolfson, 41, who owes his inspiration to pop culture and the heady rock & roll era he grew up in. His work for such retailers as Therapy, Capra & Cavelli, Garb-a-Go-Go, and Flipnotics keeps him on the short list for ad work. Running the gamut from tender to sophisticated to ridiculous, he can take the most mundane of situations and produce stunning work that sets the mind reeling with possibilities. His portfolio of compositions with mothers and children belies his gruff and salty demeanor and has a special place in his heart, as it documents, without pretense, the complex, yet inherent human qualities that remain untouched by the passing of time. It is evident that he possesses a natural ability to create a delicate bond of trust between babies and his camera -- a quality extremely useful in shooting other subjects, such as adults. The scope of his work can be seen on his Web site (www.toddvwolfson.com), as it illustrates a wide range of interests and styles, also proving that he can handle virtually any subject. His portraits of men are deftly wrought, but it is his portraits of beautiful women that have the ability to transcend the usual cheesecake photos and be haunting and evocative recordings of the times in which we live. In addition to The Austin Chronicle and Texas Monthly, his work has been shown in Rolling Stone, US Magazine, Creem, Guitar Player, LA Weekly, Musician, and Option magazines. Other major clients include BMI, Columbia Records, and Rykodisc, as Wolfson's work continues to attract the high-profile attention it deserves. In vibrant color or stark black-and-white, from Liz Carpenter to Frank Zappa, Wolfson shoots from the heart. But, watch out -- it's a really, really big heart.
THE BIG EVENT Time is running out for advance tickets for the Bikes & Babes in Toyland benefit, Saturday, Feb. 17. A major undertaking, with events throughout the day, the benefit is for the SIMS Foundation, Hope Horizon, and the Yellow Bike Project, and provides multiple entertainment possibilities for everyone from the sports fan to the fashion hound. See this same space in last week's column for complete information, or log onto www.spacetruck.net/poshevents, or contact Chella Cardona at 472-8544 or Charlotte Wood at 481-8688 (or e-mail them at email@example.com). See you there!
This is the second in a series about local fashion photographers.