FASHION
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The History Of Fashion Photography

A new book, Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, documents the history of fashion photography, from ethereal shots from the 1930s to angular images taken at the height of the fashion revolution in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Drawing from the archives of British Vogue, the book features never-before-seen images, such as “killing images” of celebrities, fashion designers and fashion photographers, to shape a new history of pillow photography. It was edited by the author and editor – New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief David Fincher and co – who co-wrote it with the magazine’s cameraman.

We want to introduce our visitors to the innovations that some of the most influential fashion photographers have brought to the market, while also learning about key moments in fashion. To see many more original pictures, you can order them here, here and here.

Over time, the business of photographing clothes has matured, as has fashion photography. While fashion designers recycle trends from past decades, photographers are inspired by their ancestors. The fashion photos below tell the story of fashion from its beginnings to its modern incarnation. Studying its history, one can learn about the photographers, magazines, designers and models who created the cultural movements that still exist today. 

In this provocative article, critic Hilton Kramer points out that the use of fashion photography will challenge the conventional values of photography and will undoubtedly meet with resolute critical resistance. It seems likely that a further reassessment of the medium will discover new values for the medium and allow for its stylistic excellence.

If the past taught us anything about fashion photography, it is that we must not be afraid to push boundaries and do things a little differently. It is the double stigmas of commercialism and materialism that make it one of the few forms of photography whose very values are called into question. Fashion photography is dedicated not only to the love of money, but also to what it implies. The success of fashion photography depends on its ability to identify with the subject, not only in terms of appearance or even appearance, and it is this dual stigmatization of “commercialization” and “materialism” that makes few of these values – which are called into question by this kind of photography – become reality.

As mentioned above, it takes skill, patience, an eye and pure professionalism to handle a real fashion photography session, and while it is true that many people have their own version of it, is it possible that some of their ideas about it are inadequate or worse still completely wrong? Even though it may sound a bit strange to many of you, there is no doubt that not every photographer has the skills to succeed as a fashion photographer.

But fashion photography has never wasted time – the maxim about sex and controversy that was once ideally sold to all of us as the perfect solution to the problem of a lack of suitable photographic skills.

To understand the future of fashion photography and how it sits in this shift, we need to examine its past a little better. To see how we got to where we are today, I’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest fashion photographers of all time, as well as some of their most famous works. The French publisher Lucien Vogel, who challenged Edward Steichen with artistic fashion photos, deviated from the purely informative images of the time – he worked hard, often with the help of his wife and daughter, and created breathtaking images. The contemporary fashion photographer has been an innovator for some time, and the breadth of this genre has expanded, giving fine photography a metaphorical, almost existential sound. Sources: 5, 10, 14, 15

A common criticism of fashion photography is that it does not cover the entire spectrum of the human body, from body parts to clothing and accessories. This other criticism obscures the fact that fashion photos can have a wide range of motifs, including women, men, children, and even animals.

Vogue has worked with a small number of photographers in the past, and the relationship between the magazine and its photographers can be tempestuous at times. After all, fashion photography has evolved into a major industry in the 21st century, but one factor has not changed: fashion photographers abound, and with good reason. Fashion photography has become a great success in the modern world and has often become scandalous. Fashion photos are not statements of fact or ideals, they are not about creating illusions or flattering clothes.

As with music and other photography, we are in a very transitional period in fashion photography. Those who are still shooting are the ones who have accepted change and reinvented their style over time, but once they do it becomes obsolete. 

Lady GaGa was so creative and courageous in incorporating fashion photos into her photographs that she set a new standard and potentially gave the fashion industry new permission to break new ground, set new standards and give new permits to the people who live in them. The fact that companies such as Faberge and Revlon have used fashion photography in their products suggests that it is perceived as credible by masses of people. It goes without saying how important it is to publish first – namely to evaluate women’s fashion photography. I agree that the pillow photography industry is developing rapidly, but it runs counter to the principle of a publishing empire aimed at selling women, not men.