PhotographerDamion Berger
PrizeGold in Fine Art / Other
Entry Description

"Perhaps as a means to counteract my innate inhibitions, photography for me has always been the perfect excuse to sneak into places I don't belong or explore environments I would otherwise feel ill at ease. It was in this vain that I stumbled into this project whilst walking the streets of midtown Manhattan one evening, I became intrigued by the people dressed in black-tie heading to the smart hotels to attend balls, charity galas and other formal parties so I jumped into a taxi to rush home, changed into black-tie and quickly returned, camera in hand to follow the guests into the Grand Ballrooms as if I was invited". Not unlike the infamous German photographer, Dr Erich Salomon, who penetrated the inner sanctums of European politics and diplomacy in the 1920s and 30s, I was resourceful in gaining access by whatever means to infiltrate the milieu of high society and aristocracy, photographing within the context of black-tie parties and formal events in private clubs, hotels, ballrooms and grand residences from castles to palazzo's in over 15 countries around the world. In contrast to the P.R. driven world of the Jet-Set, always eager to seek out the paparazzo's flash, RSVP provides a window into a more guarded part of society defined by 'Old Money', tradition and privilege. One might be forgiven for thinking such gatherings have largely been relegated to history yet their place on the international social calendar remains as entrenched as ever. Whether promoted under the pretext of charity and philanthropy, as is more often the case in the U.S., or simply by virtue of established traditions and culture, these 'events' nonetheless retain their exclusive heirs, propagated by the wealthy, the powerful, and those simply born to the right family. The title of my book R.S.V.P. is drawn from the French 'réspondez s'il vous plaît' which is invariably written at the foot of invitations and requests the recipient to 'please respond'. As all the parties and events that serve as the backdrop to this book were by invitation only. The title 'R.S.V.P.' is somewhat ironic, given that I was never actually 'invited', I have of course never been asked to RSVP!"

About Photographer

Born in London in 1978, Damion lives and works in New York and France. Whilst initially pursuing a Business degree at University in France, an offer from Helmut Newton to become his assistant marked a turning point in direction and subsequently led him to New York where he earned a BFA in Photography at Parsons School of Design. â??Damionâ??s work predominantly revolves around themes of social ritual, exploring the parallel correlation between human interaction and the social context by which itâ??s defined. Working in black & white and often presented in large format, his images appear strikingly fresh. Although his photographs are notably spontaneous they are infused with a classic compositional flair reminiscent of the work of notable masters of the small camera such as Cartier-Bresson and Lartigue.â?? His work has been exhibited in the United States, Canada and Europe and is held in private collections in the United States, Europe, South America and the Far East. He has been featured in Magazines such as PDN, American Photo, Hotshoe, B&W Magazine, Sunday Times Magazines and the British Journal of Photograph and was recently selected for The Magenta Foundationâ??s â??Flash Forward 2008â??, named the winner of the inaugural â??Flash Forward Book Awardâ?? for his project â??In the Deep Endâ?? to be published in 2009. Listed among the â??top 50 Photographersâ?? in Photolucidaâ??s â??Critical Mass 2008â??, his multi-year project â??R.S.V.P.â??, on the milieu of â??old moneyâ?? society in the context of formal, black-tie gatherings around the world, is also due to be published by Mets & Schilt in 2009.