6 Influential Fashion Photographers Through History
By: Ashley Hajimirsadeghi
With the influence of smartphones and social media, it seems easier than ever to take pictures of our outfits in highly stylized ways in aesthetic settings. However, many may not realize the larger influence at play is a deep history of fashion, film, and photography interconnected between mediums. For as long as we have had cameras, photographers have been looking to clothes as inspiration.
Photography evolved with the rise of magazines like Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s and Vogue under the command of the legendary Diana Vreeland. Since then, fashion photography has become mainstream while reflecting changing social attitudes, cultural shifts, and, of course, fashion trends. Here are some of the most innovative photographers in fashion history who continue to influence the field to this day.
Avedon was one of the biggest photographers in the second half of the twentieth century, with his work gracing many covers of both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He was famous for shooting the movement of clothes while the model typically was walking, jumping, or dancing.
Photo: Richard Avedon for Vogue Magazine (1967)
Horst P. Horst
Horst was fascinated with avant-garde art, which bled into his work later as a photographer. He was obsessed with surrealism and the Greek traditional thoughts about what was beautiful, leading to highly simplistic but regal images.
Photo: Horst P. Horst for Condé Nast
Beaton was an award-winning photographer, but he also had an eye for costume design, winning an Oscar for his costumes in My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn. He primarily worked at British Vogue until the onset of WWII, when he transitioned to capturing scenes of war.
Photo: Anna May Wong for Cecil Beaton
By the time he was sixteen years old, Newton had his hands on a camera and was an apprentice to a photographer. His family and he fled their native Germany, as they were Jews in the Nazi era, and he began to work in Australia, thus laying the groundwork for his career in fashion.
Photo: Helmut Newton for Vogue
Turbeville wasn’t originally an artist. She was a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar who turned to photography in the 1970s. Many of her images utilize darker undertones, using poor lighting and dark clothing to provide a departure from the traditional presentation of fashion photography. Photo: Deborah Turbeville
Penn was one of the giants of the twentieth century along with Richard Avedon. He often used tight angles and utilized props to accentuate the features of the clothes and models while featuring them with a simple background.
Photo: Woman in Chicken Hat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), 1949 by Irving Penn