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The Dior Lady


The story behind that picture: "The Dior Lady"

By: Thorsten Overgaard   (Danish version)


One of the questions I get a lot is if I know the people in my photos, if I talk to them, if I ask permission or if it is planned or staged phots

The answer in general is that I look for a certain atmosphere and that it usually involves a moment where the light and the people are just right. For me light and people are expressing life and aesthetics.

Hence it some times clicks unexpected in a cafe, on the street, in a store while doing my shopping - or when I do a formal photo shoot. It's certain elements and I haven't analyzed what they might be. I just know them by hearth and can often predict when a moment like the ones I photograph might happen in a moment.

I have an image of the atmosphere before the photo

Often when I do a formal photo shoot I have an atmosphere in mind rather than an excat setup of light or people. Often I meet people the first time for formal photo shoots and just have an idea what atmospehre the image should or might be communicating, based on the briefind I have about what it is for and what they have been doing that they deserve to be in a magazine.

People don't mind looking good in photos

But as the people in my photos that are not arranged or stages formal photo sessions, it's people I see somewhere and simply photograph. Often I see an opportunity might arise and will prepare in a hurry and get it. I almost never ask permission because I want that moment, and often people won't even notice. Some times they do and pretend not to while they play their part, some times we have eye contact after the shot and I simply nod or give sign it was good and walk away.

You can tell if people want to talk more, and then I may go to them and tell what I do. Some times I give them my card and ask them to e-mail me so I can send a copy. But my overall experience is that people really don't mind and even don't care. Very few send an e-mail to get a copy.

And nobody ever threatened me or were angry. Only one punk-rocker in Berlin once said "Fuck you" to me as he walked into my frame. I said "thank you" and he continued walking. Unfrotunately he moved towards me as he said 'fuck you' so that ruined the focus.

The Dior Lady

The Dior Lady

The woman in the image is the Danish model Ann we had taken with us to Sicily in May 2011 for the Overgaard Advanced Workshop. So in this case I know her but it is not a staged photograph.

She had a very nice wardrobe with her and the first evening after we had arrived we went out to have dinner araound 19:00 and she was waring this outfit. I noticed that when a tall blond woman elegantly dressed walked in the streets of Palermo, the men would stop what they were doing and admire the woman with respect.

The "Repeating Action" in photography

So walking behind Ann and approacing three men by a scooter smoking and talking, I knew what the outcome would be. I call this "repeating action" as you some times miss a shot but can prepare for another similar because it will be a "repeating action". For example in a cafe with nice light on a table there will be coming and going new people all the time at the table, so you can simply 'set yor stage' and prepare focus and all for the right people sitting there.

Or if it is raining in the street with nice reflections and you miss a couple walking over the street with nice reflections from a taxis front lights, it's a "repeating action" because something similar will happen several times in the next ten minutes.

So never regret being too slow focusing or setting exposure time. You will get another chance, and very often it will surprise you just how well casted the people walking into your frame can be. In any case, I knew this might happen and tried to be prepared.

The actual original frame and the crop used for The Dior Lady

  Bokeh is how the shape of out-of-focus areas look. The word bokeh comes Japanese.

The first of two photos I took was a well framed one with good focus, the second I was moving the camera because I was walking while I photographed. In editing the photos I thought 'damn, I didn't get it' but then found a way to crop the image so it works well. The first image was better technically; but the second had the right body position and atmosphere. Hence it was that one or nothing.

The wall

It's a nice image, but when it gets printed and put on a wall it comes to life and eminates atmosphere. In the Leica Galerie Salzburg we made a sinlge limited edition in 125 x 180 cm for the top of the stairs. From outside the gallery you see The Dior Girl on top of the stairs and through the glass it looks like a very elegant gallery guest walking around.

Also some other qualities than the usual sharpness and micro details come in play when you frame it on a wall. For example the bokeh in the upper left corner is underlining the atmosphre and is a piece of aesthetics in it self.


A large limited print of The Dior Lady getting ready to travel to a private colection in Austria. To the left my daughter Robin Isabella, to the right, Lisa Kutzelnig of Leica Galerie Salzburg.



The Dior Lady limited editions

Photo by Peter Hellekalek

The Dior Lady is image no 5 in "The Salzburg Collection" consisting of 68 images from 2008-2012 by Thorsten Overgaard. The Leica Galerie Salzburg has made five numbered limited and signed editions in 50 x 70 cm available for € 650 and a single one-off large 125 x 180 cm aluboard for € 1,950. All editions are made in Lambda silver-based photo paper.


Buy your own limited edition "The Dior Lady" or one of the other 68 images in The Salzburg Collection

The large 125 x 180 cm edition is sold but there are still 50 x 70 cm editions available numbered x/5. If interested in this or to recieve the list of all 68 images in "The Salzburg Collection" to see what is available, simply click on the image below or send an e-mail to Karin Kaufmann and Lisa Kutzelnig at

All images are available online with international shipping in 50 x 70 cm signed limited edition silver-based Lambda prints (also known as C-type paper) from Leica Galerie Salzburg: See gallery of images and prices

Leica Galerie Salzburg presents The Salzburg Collection Limited Edition Prints by Thorsten Overgaard


Article in Salzburger Nachrichten by Eva Pittertschatscher. Click on the image for a PDF version:


Thorsten Overgaard, April 6, 2012




Above: Image No 5 from "The Salzburg Collection" is The Dior Lady which has been available by The Leica Galerie Salzburg in 5 limited numbered and signed editions in 50x70 cm and one 125x180 cm. numered and signed edition.









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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

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