jules bates jules bates
jun 01, 2010

jules bates

model: paulet fe. clothes: marlene stuart image © jules bates

best known for his fashion photography in the 70s, the work of LA photographer jules bates was an ambiguous mixture of painting, photography and make up design. however, the experimental nature of his pieces also rendered many of his photographs as commercial failures as his peripheral design elements often overshadowed the clothing in visual hierarchy.

image © jules bates

bates continued to sustain himself with work for record companies, generating album photo covers and through formal portrait photography. his lists of portraits taken included such individuals as buckminister fuller, howard devoto, charles bikowski, pee wee herman and johanna went. however it was it was his love for fashion photography that became his primary source of creative departure from the ordinary.

album cover with ‘devo’ wearing flower pots on their head. for bates, album jackets helped pay the bills. image © jules bates

jules bates studied at the art center school of design in pasadena, california where he met his business partner and later estranged girlfriend phyllis cohen. working together, cohen would often use paint to design because the color was more intense than ordinary makeup in bates’s photographs. meanwhile, backgrounds designed by bates would reflect the motifs created by cohen. as a result, people were often confused by what medium they were looking at  – a photograph or a painting.

’80s b/w fashion photo is charged with graphic power which dominates the ‘burger ‘n fries’ melrose chic image © jules bates

in their final installment of digitizing punk publication nomag, reserve – an LA based flagship store and gallery –  just put online a past issue dedicated to the passing of photographer jules bates, who was a large contributor to the magazine. jules was killed in a motorcycle accident while either leaving or arriving to his photo studio at 4th and normandie in los angeles on september 26th, 1982. this issue features lots of his photography, as well as an obituary written by bruce kalberg .

model: lena pousette, makeup by phyllis cohen image © jules bates

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