The fashion industry is face-paced and always changing. In an industry that is continuously evolving, fashion photographers are essential in bringing the latest styles and trends to consumers around the world. Behind every fashion magazine spread and style campaign is a brilliant fashion photographer who brought together the right fashion, the right models, and the right locations.
Following the work of successful fashion photographers allows you to explore different styles, techniques, and inspirational elements. To get started, let us check out 5 of the most legendary fashion photographers who paved the way for fashion photography across the globe.
Best known for his work with portrait photography, American photographer Richard Avedon’s focus on minimalism set him apart from many fashion photographers of his time. His early work began with simple identification photos before he was inspired to move on to the fashion world – shooting for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Avedon was also one of the first photographers to demand emotion and movement from his models, setting a new tone from the norm of motionless fashion photography.
Annie Leibovitz, a renowned American photographer, is best known for her appealing and theatrical celebrity portraits. Annie began her work in photography with Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970 and soon became the first woman to be named Chief Photographer. She then moved on to Vanity Fair, where she developed her staged portrait style. Annie believes there is no such thing as “objectivity” and works to prove this by capturing her subject’s personality and inner life through photography. She credits Richard Avedon as one of the main influencers of her work.
Notoriously known as ‘The King of Kink’, Helmut Newton became one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century by redefining the way women were portrayed in the fashion world. Newton was not a fan of staying in the lines of “good taste” and instead paved the way for fashion photography to become provocative and bold. He took his photography outside of the studio and into the streets – incorporating sexuality, desire, and human exploration. His love for the cinema is evident in his photography preferences for black and white film, mystery, and seduction.
Known for his cinematic images and realism, Peter Lindbergh is also considered a pioneer in the photography industry. Lindbergh drastically changed the standards of fashion photography when he redefined the standards of beauty with timeless images. His humanistic approach to photography allowed him to capture soul and personality in his photos during a time when excessive retouching and perfection were the norm. His vision is to present photos in their pure state, avoiding all stereotypes and enhancing the authenticity of women.
“This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.” – Peter Lindbergh
Ellen von Unwerth
A German photographer best known for her playfully erotic images of female pop culture, Ellen von Unwerth places the importance of atmosphere over technique. Discovered by a model scout at the age of 20, Ellen spent her first 10 years in the fashion world as a model before turning to photography. Her provocative, yet playful, approach to photography launched her career and dictated the Guess brand’s infamously provocative advertising campaigns for the next 30 years. Over the course of her career, Ellen has photographed Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Rihanna amongst other work with Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Dior.
Shining a spotlight on 5 of the most influential photographers in the fashion industry is only a start to the inspiration and skill that can be found in their work. Whether you are new to the fashion industry or have been around the block a few times, following the work of famous fashion photographers is key to understanding different styles, techniques, and influences.
Even the most influential and successful fashion photographers many times credit their inspiration to successful photographers that came before them – so consider this is great starting place to spark a creative fire for your next fashion photography endeavor.
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If you’re interested in learning more about a specific modeling subject or idea, shoot me a message on Instagram or contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org I’m always happy to answer additional questions or comments.
Morey Spellman is a Los Angeles based fashion photographer.
His work combines a love for beautiful light, authentic beauty, and natural scenery.