Irving Penn’s Hell’s Angels

Bikes People

Irving Penn is undoubtedly one of the true masters of the photographic portrait. When he photographed a bunch of Hells Angels for Look Magazine in 1968 all the classic Penn elements were there – there was the stark backdrop; the steely monochrome and the naturalism of the sitter’s attitude and expression.

Wether or not Penn’s subjects were the rich and the famous or a bunch of hairy bikers he always managed to capture something lasting and resonant about the individuals involved. And these two prints manage to be incisive without resorting to cliché; revealing without being intrusive.

This is an incredibly sensitive portrayal of what must be one of the most widely hyped and misunderstood subcults in human history, from a time when the clubs’ notoriety was perhaps at its peak.