Jennifer Lopez Feb 2019

This picture is monumental. Anyone could take a beautiful picture of Jennifer Lopez. I love that Camilla Akrans and Harper’s Bazaar didn’t settle for that.

Using the sky as a vast area of negative space, Akrans includes the diving board to provide scale and context. Lopez, isolated, dramatically towers above our low angle. The carefully thought out composition frames her as the superhero.

Even shooting swimwear, styling is central. Fashion’s bathing cap heritage is referenced here. Originally a practical accessory, swimming caps are used by designers, particularly Prada, for their aesthetic. The sleek form suggests futurism and otherworldliness, but subtly acts to change a model’s proportions. In this image the cap maintains the clean lines of Lopez’s body without the messiness of hair.

Lopez is serene in her Christ-like pose. Only a dancer could be in that position and remain elegant. There’s tension in her body, she’s arched upward, providing movement and making it look like she’s flying. Despite the tension, there’s no grimace in her face.

This is not the first time that Lopez has been part of an epic photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar. Her 2018 Mariano Vivanco rooftop shoot was heart stopping. Lopez is fearless in the name of a great picture.

Though I favour the simplicity of black and white images, this picture needs colour. The heavily saturated gradated sky jumps from the page. I love the little puff of pink cloud at the bottom of the frame. The tiny cracks of imperfection often make an image.

The picture reminds me of Annie Leibovitz’s Vogue portraits of US Olympians (and Karlie Kloss!) before the 2012 games. I expect they were on the mood board for this shoot. Leibovitz’s pictures captured the combined strength, poise and beauty of elite athletes, not something that easily translates to a single frame. It’s an appropriate reference for Lopez who, always a dancer, is known for her time spent at the gym. Showing beauty through strength and power feels of the moment. This is a long way from fashion’s fragile heroin chic or floral romanticism. Lopez is a fierce, got her shit together icon for 2019.

Little has remained consistent over the past 20 years, but Lopez has. More relevant today than in the 90s Diddy era. When was she ever not at the top? Always classy, Lopez is the swan song for pre-Internet celebrity. While not considered fashion royalty, she will be forever associated with her Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys. The world needs more Lopez fashion shoots.

*Photographer Nerd Notes

I think this picture has been manipulated. Lopez’s pose is too perfect and she’s certainly not got that high from the diving board. I suspect she was suspended on some kind of harness and the picture is a composite.

The shot could have been taken early or late in the day. Lopez is lit softly from below with reflected sunlight, or a dialled down strobe. Without this additional lighting, she would have been too dark against the sky.

Hello. I'm Darren Shaw, a software developer at Net-A-Porter, which I've occasionally written about.

I also play at being a portrait photographer - but it's just a hobby. I love the photographs of Boo George, Norman Jean Roy, Steven Meisel and especially Peter Lindbergh. I've also written about why I like their pictures. I sometimes do test shoots, so if you're interested in working together please get in touch.

Darren, June 2022.