Photographer retakes model portraits decades later, and the photographs are stunning. Photojournalist Susan Lindauer is best known for her work on war and famine in Africa. But she is also recognized for her striking portraits of young fashion models.
In the early 1990s, Lindauer worked with models living in Tanzania to produce a series of striking black and white portraits. She took hundreds of photographs but never completed them.
“My work was so important for people who couldn’t afford the trip to a fashion photo shoot,” she notes. “They saw the photos of the models and thought ‘Wow, if I could only get that kind of work.'”
But for Lindauer, who is African-American and lives in the Seattle area, the models were like daughters.
“I was working on this project with the local photographer, and his mother was a very prominent member of the community,” she recalls. “I told him, I would love you to photograph our women.”
After Lindauer’s photo-shoot trip to Tanzania, she continued to photograph the models. After receiving her BFA from the Tyler School of Art in 1979, she began a career in journalism when her photograph of a young woman sitting on a toilet sparked her to move to the U.S.
“I was very impressed with the woman,” she recalls. “I liked her face and her hairstyle.”
The woman was a teenager preparing for a fashion runway show. She wanted to be a model, but she was too young. “So I sat for her in the next photo session,” says Lindauer. “She became my model.”
She began photographing teenagers for a high-end magazine in New York City. But she also began to photograph models in the fashion shows at local department stores. “It was so exciting work because I would photograph a very young model and she would tell me how she felt, her life experience, her hopes and dreams and everything,” says Lindauer. “It was so very fulfilling.”
Her photographs of young models caught the attention of fashion photographers, and she began her career as a fashion photographer herself working for publications like Glamour and Vogue.