The face behind the most influential fashion photographers

Photography as an advertising tool has redefined itself with the dawn of the fashion industry. Those are some of the photographers whose works still remain after so many fashion trends and fashion industry turns, along some of the artists who are nowadays walking the paths of the new creative fashion and advertising photography.

All of them inspire photographers, stylists and designers everyday, and become an essential reference point as tied to fashion as needle and string are.


Self portrait for Lavazza

Annie Leivobitz

American, Annie Leivobitz began her career with portrait photography for magazine covers like Rolling Stone, while she kept doing its personal work. Some people say she's the world's best paid photographer, and the list of celebrities, jobs and campaigns done by her is endless.

Though her work is not focused on fashion photography, the influence of her works is so powerful that there's no fashion designer not wanting to dress her models. Rumors said that Queen Elizabeth II got angry when Annie ask her to took the crown off its head for the photo. What a great and symbolic photo would have been!


Self portrait

Cecil Beaton

He started taking portraits of his daughters when he was 11, and ended being an icon of fashion and celebrity photography. He was a real lover of cinema and theatre, and in fact, his career was always also linked to scenography and clothing design; he even made his acting debut. At the age of 23 he were already working often for Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Cecil Beaton wasn't specially good at photo technique (Being a child, its nanny told him the basics of photography and developing, and that's all), but no doubt he was exceptional about his passion and artistic understanding of the stage. Angus McBean and David Bailey's work (two of the best photographers that days) was clearly influentied by Beaton's work, and sure thousands of other modern photographers are also.

Jean Shrimpton
Marylin Monroe
Charles James Gowns, 1948

by Suki Dhanda for the Observer

David Lachapelle

Social criticism fights against crazyness and surrealism in David LaChapelle's images. It is said that the observer finds in his works its most hidden deliriums: like the mirror that reveals instead of reflecting. He started his career in the 80's art galleries on New York, and is today the most famous celebrity between celebrities: Michael Jackson, Madonna, DiCaprio and even Hillary Clinton are already part of LaChapelle's colorful universe.

As happens with other great photo artists, he also opened its mind to the image in movement, and now the world is a bit more "LaChapelle"ish thanks to the spots he directs. Its favourite resting place is the Hawaian jungle where he lives, and who knows what more.


Self portrait for Lavazza

Ellen von Unwerth

She started as a model, and ten years later Ellen von Unwerth decided to go the other side of the camera. Her career started when she shooted Claudia Schiffer for its first campaign at Guess; maybe they were colleagues in a catwalk! Her sensuous and spontaneous view of the woman and its personal style led her to win the International Festival of Fashion Photography on 1991, but haven't stopped since then: Music covers for Britney Spears, Dido, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Kylie Minogue and publications for Vogue Vanity Fair, Interview ...


Self-portrait

Erwin Olaf

He started studying photojournalism, and perhaps that's why there's people that find in Erwin Olaf's photos a provocative and critic aspect: We like photos that make us think. Erwin also does this with a touch of humor.

Levi's, Microsoft, Nokia, Diesel, Heineken and also endless galleries have surrended to this photogenic guy. Some say once one of his photos was denied in a contest for not containing nude.


by David Soria

Eugenio Recuenco

Lots have seen the light thanks to Eugenio Recuenco's photos. For this artist and his team, the key of creation is to bring succesfully the art of the image expression to the commercial field; more or less the same that other renowned artists must fight at one point or another of its artistic life, we suppose. Here you have an special article about Eugenio Recuenco with more examples of his work.

Brands paying for superproductions want to "paint" its campaigns with "art" to make them succesful. Eugenio and its team paint with "brand" everything they touch, and now brands like Loewe, Nina Ricci, Mango, Freixenet, L'Oreal, Yves Saint Laurent, Gaulter and Lavazza are no more only brands, but also image art icons.


Self portrait, 1965

Guy Bourdin

Born in Paris on 1928, adopted and a french air force soldier: A pioneer of fashion photography who rubbed elbows with the very same Man Ray. Fashion giants like Loewe, Gianni Versace, Vogue or Harper's Bazaar amazed the world those days thanks to the vision of artists like Guy Bourdin (Even though for some time he liked to be called Edwin Hallan)

Jean-Baptiste Mondino, another renowned fashion photographer, was sued to pay 600.000 dollars for copying some of Guy's photos in the music video "Hollywood" by Madonna. Are you curious? Here's a comparison of the plagiarized images. Nobody messes with Bourdin!


Self portrait

Helmut Newton

The contribution of Helmut Newton to fashion photography doesn't needs an introduction. With a Kodak and a Rolleicord in the suitcase, he migrated from Germany to Singapur as a refugee, and got his first work as a photographer in a newspaper at the age of 18. He got fired a short after, it seems their photos doesn't liked that much.

His artistic perception of the woman's body and its obsession on catching the beauty, the glamour and seduction makes him to be classified without any doubt as a pioneer on its field: The apparent spontaneity of his works is for most of its fans the clearest manifestation of Helmut Newton's art, a beauty idealist.

June Newton, Helmut's wife, recorded and directed the documentary "Helmut Newton by June", an essential video where you'll see the photographer who changed fashion photography forever work.

He said: "A good photography must seem anything except a fashion photography: a portrait, a souvenir photo, a paparazzi one ..."


by Statis Orphanos

Horst P.Horst

In the gold age of the Avant-garde thinking, Art Decó and surrealism, Horst P.Horst standed out like no other in between the photographers that were working those days on what we now call "the awakening" of fashion photography.

At its begginings, he took photos of Bette Davis, Cole Porter and others. He became a good friend of the very Coco Chanel, and was the brand's photographer for 30 years. He liked to prepare its photos down to the smallest detail: He loved to use lots of lighting equipment (often, 4 spots, one pointing from the ceiling), and it is said that he always commissioned others to develop, enlarge and print its photos; he must hate the loneliness of the lab. It is said that Marlene Dietrich don't liked the lighting Horst set up for its portrait, but when she saw the results she finally changed her mind. One can trust Horst.

Lisa with Turban, 1940
Round the Clock II, 1987
The Mainbocher Corset, 1939

Self portrait

Irving Penn

Portraiture is common in most fashion photographers. If portraits are the photo style that digs deeper in the person's soul, it can be said that Irving Penn knew how to bring this essence to commercial photography better than anyone else. Its tendence to make the model stand out by using neutral background almost always is not a coincidence (or maybe it is, as he admitted): Models seem to stay twice as present in Penn's photos; not only to capture its aesthetics, but also to captivate the observer's mind in a way that the message seems to come up from the model, not from the image.

As in the hollywood-film style, he married one of his models, Lisa Fonssagrives, thus adding one more excuse to become a fashion photographer. As all the "big ones", he shooted VIP people ad nauseam: From EEUU presidents to Kate Moss nudes and Truman Capote (this last one, dressed)

It is said that he was the first to use a fake corner in a very acute angle as a background, so if this idea comes to your mind you must know you are not the first one.

He once said: "A good photo is the one that communicates a fact, touches heart and leaves the observer changed. Is, in a word, effective."

Lisa Fonssagrives by Irving Penn
Pablo Picasso
Top models of the 40s

Javier Vallhonrat

Don't let golden agers fool you: Fashion has changed, and art must be open to new points of view: Javier Vallhonrat is not yet an old glory, but it will.

An exquisite use of color, stylism, poses and balanced feelings. Vallhonrat escapes from conventional fashion photography to exploit by its own the most controversial fashion essence, the fashion-reality duality. And he achieves this: The spectrum of its work is homogeneous, loyal to his principles. Is sure that there's something inside Vallhonrat's mind that is also in all of its photos for you to see. Is also sure we already saw it without even knowing.

He said: "Photography is the reflection of our own contradictions"


Self portrait

Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Just Mondino for his friends. A mysterious french photographer always hiding his face in self portraits. As happened with other great artists, his works have gone beyond the commercial advertising tyranny and the prefabricated creativity long time ago: Mondino's shutter not only left a footprint in the most renowned fashion brands, but also in lots of music videos for some idols like David Bowie, Sting, Chris Isaak, Björk or Madonna, with whom got some legal issues after Guy Bourdin's son sued him for plagiarism.

We equally love Mondino and Bourdin, so just want to remember Picasso's words: "Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal"

This is the first in a series of articles about great photographers in history, follow us on facebook or on twitter to stay tuned!
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