Art Dictionary

Just Loomis

Just Loomis

© Cebe Loomis in Paris, 2010

Biography

Just Loomis (*1957 Reno, Nevada) lives in Los Angeles. Studied in Nevada and Pasadena, CA. Assistant to Helmut Newton from 1980 on. Fashion photographer in Milan in the 1980s; nominated for a Grammy for cover of Aha's album, Hunting High and Low. 1985–1997: fashion photographer in New York for Harper's Bazaar and The New York Times Magazine. Portrait and documentary photographer since 1995. Produced works for Dreamworks and Warner Brothers Records. Exhibitions in Santa Monica, New York, Berlin, Paris, and Oslo.

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Just Loomis

Just Loomis
As We Are

out of print
ISBN 978-3-7757-2636-8
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Unvarnished, subtle beauty

“It’s the people Just chooses for his photos, he understands them. They’re untouched photos. That’s why they are, to me, a perfect example of present-day Americana.” (June Newton)

Just Loomis began his career as an assistant to Helmut Newton, whom he met shortly after graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; the two remained close friends until Newton’s death in 2004. Newton’s widow, June, is still one of Loomis’ supporters. For almost fifteen years, he enjoyed a successful career as a fashion photographer in Milan and New York, working for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times Magazine. In 1995, though, he made a break, and moved with his family to New Mexico, where he decided to devote himself to projects that were of importance to him personally.

Apart from his professional work, Loomis has always shot photos for himself. In the 1970s, amid the railroad tracks and casinos of his birthplace—Reno, Nevada—he took black-and-white photos of life in the American West, and its landscapes. Toward the end of the 1990s, as a father of two children, he spent four years only taking photos of children who caught his attention. Ultimately, he moved to Los Angeles to concentrate solely on portrait and documentary photography, some of it in very subtle color.

Loomis’ pictures provide an honest view of everyday life in America. He photographs waitresses, strippers, models, lonely strangers, couples in love, old and young folk, his family, and people met by chance; vast, open landscapes and densely packed cities. With a sense of curiosity and sympathy, his photos narrate the lives of people around him.

Childhood memories—of his parents’ motel and restaurant, for example—are an important source of inspiration. For Loomis, photography is a medium that helps to maintain memories or else re-interprets them. In many of his pictures, the relationship between the people and their country is palpable, although not chauvinistically patriotic. At times, his spontaneous street scenes recall Robert Frank’s photo-journalism piece, The Americans (1958).

Loomis fully explores the narrative, documentary, and aesthetic potential of his naturalistic genre. He long ago abandoned the world of glossy magazines. Today, he looks behind the scenes of fashion shows. There is no need to experiment with form or to create artificial scenes. He finds subtle beauty, not in perfection, but in the unvarnished.

August 25, 2010 Monika Wolz

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