Fashion’s Greatest Photographers Pt. 1

We leaf through magazines in awe of the beautiful models and stunning clothes, but do we ever stop to wonder about the person behind the lens?  In order to get acquainted with the artists who have made those ads and editorials possible, I bring you five of fashion’s most influential and talented photographers.

Horst P. Horst (1906-1999)

After his first photography exhibition in Paris in 1932, Horst was instantly famous.  Over his career, he shot a number of ads and magazine covers.

Horst for Vogue Magazine 1940

Horst’s photo, “The Mainbocher Corset” is considered one of the great iconic photos of the 20thcentury.  In it, he featured a model in a back-lacing corset turned away from the camera, which has been described as mysterious and erotically charged.

The Mainbocher Corset by Irving Penn September Vogue 1939 Detolle for Mainbocher

Horst created a real-life version of the ancient Greek statues, a visual that he repeated often in many of his photographs.

Helen Bennett by Horst Paris 1936

Horst’s effect on the fashion world is considered one the most significant and long lasting of all fashion photographers.

Irving Penn (1917-2009)

Minimal, elegant, and calm; the work of Irving Penn set a standard for fashion photography in the 1940’s.  Working under the tutelage of Vogue art director, Alex Liberman, he shot his first cover for vogue in 1943.  (He shot over 150 covers for Vogue during his career.)

A Still Life of Accessories by Irving Penn, Vogue October 1943

Penn photographed a number of famous men and women but his muse was Lisa Fonssagrives, to model and wife to Penn.

Lisa Fonssagrives in Lafaurie’s pleated chiffon evening dress September 15, 1950

Penn was well known for bringing a specific style to his photographs that continues to inspire designers and photographers to this day.

Truman Capote by Penn 1948

Helmut Newton (1920-2004)

Newton’s photographs are a very distinct bunch.  Always in black and white and often sexual in nature, his style has been gracing the pages of fashion magazines since the late 1950’s.

Now often imitated, Newton’s portraits pushed the envelope of fashion photography and contributed a path of change to the fashion world.

French Vogue 1975 Le Smoking YSL Suit

Although his photos were sometimes labeled pornographic, it has been argued that Newton gave the woman a position of power and created a new industry standard.  Over the years he worked for French and Australian Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Playboy.

Richard Avedon (1923-2004)

Alexy Brodovitch, art director for the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, discovered and hired Avedon in 1944.  Soon after, Avedon became their chief photographer.  Avedon went against the standards of fashion photography of the time, preferring to shoot models full of emotion and often in action.

Homage to Munkacsi 1957 with model Carmen

He is also known for his talent at capturing revealing portraits.  In 1957 session with Marilyn Monroe, Avedon took one final shot as she was winding down which became one of the most famous portraits ever made.  As photographer Vik Muniz said, it was “a picture of Norma Jean, not Marilyn.”

Marilyn Monroe 1957

Throughout his career, Avedon shot a number of covers for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue as well was campaigns for Versace. ( Fun Fact: The character of Dick Avery in the film “Funny Face” was based off of Richard’s experience as a fashion photographer.)

Harpar’s Bazaar cover shot by Avedon in 1965

Steven Meisel (1954-)

Meisel’s fascination with fashion began at an early age and now he is considered one of the most successful fashion photographers in the industry.  Although he majored in fashion illustration at Parsons, Meisel enjoyed taking photos of models in his spare time and eventually moved into photography as a career.

Dolce and Gabbana F/W 2006 campaign by Meisel

Meisel has worked for a number of magazines and designers, many of whom he is constantly shooting for. For example, he works with US and Italian Vogue (He shoots every cover of Italian Vogue.) and he shoots campaigns for designers such as Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and Prada.

Meisel for Louis Vuitton S/S 2012 Collection

Thanks to his connections in the industry Meisel has promoted the careers of many successful models including Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Lara Stone, Doutzen Krous and Coco Rocha by featuring them in his campaign shoots.

Linda Evangelista in 1990 by Meisel

After the many years spent in the business producing striking images, Meisel has certainly proven himself as an artist.

Part 2 is on its way!  Thanks for reading, hipikats.

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