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Famous Vogue Photographers and Brilliant Artists

August 23, 2016
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

With a history that spans over more than 100 years, Vogue magazine had produced some of the finest and most iconic images of modern times and played a pivotal role in portraiture, fashion and beauty photography. The history of Vogue photography exhibits the work of the best creatives of various generations. The list of Vogue photographers is comprised of world-class names who have been defining and changing the world of fashion photography through decades. Synonymous with enduring style and described as “the world’s most influential fashion magazine”[1], the magazine has a photo collection that shows the breadth and depth of the work commissioned by this fashion bible.

The magazine has been commissioning leading photographers and designers to produce some of the most influential and stunning imagery in the history of fashion. The list of Vogue photographers is long and it features legends such as Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller, Irving Penn, David Bailey, Corinne Day, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Tim Walker, Bruce Weber, Edward Steichen, Peter Lindbergh and Albert Watson, among others.[2] Their images were daring, discerning and iconoclastic. The unparalleled excellence of the magazine’s imagery serves as a stylish barometer of both social and cultural changes that have shaped the 20th century. “If fashion documents were the only ones in existence, it would still be possible to trace with some accuracy the social and political history of a period”, stated magazine’s wartime editor Audrey Withers.[3]

We bring you a list of the most iconic Vogue photographers who have shaped the landscape of fashion photography.

Featured images: William Klein for Vogue; Guy Bourdin for Vogue 1972; George Hoyningen-Huene for Vogue; Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue 1948; Cecil Beaton for Vogue 1975. All images for illustrative purposes only.

  • Left Cecil Beaton for French Vogue, via showstudio com Right Cecil Beaton for Vogue 1936, via pleasurephotoroom.wordpress com

Cecil Beaton - An Influential Photographer

Cecil Beaton was a highly influential British fashion and portrait photographer. He shot a wide range of photographs for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Rising into prominence during the 1920s, he became renowned for a unique style of posing sitters with unusual backgrounds. In 1930, he published his first collection of works entitled The Book of Beauty. Apart from working in fashion industry, he was also involved with portraiture and photojournalism during the war. During the World War II, he captured war scenes in England, Africa and the Middle East for the British Ministry of Information. After the war, he started developing interest in costume and set design. He won Tony Awards for his costume work for the theatrical adaptation My Fair Lady and the film Coco, but also Oscars for Gigi and the film My Fair Lady.

Featured images: Cecil Beaton; Left: Cecil Beaton for French Vogue / Right: Cecil Beaton for Vogue 1936.

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Erwin Blumenfeld - A Pioneering Fashion Photographer

An influential German-born photographer, Erwin Blumenfeld is best known for his work for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar during the 1940s and 1950s. As a pioneering fashion photographer, Blumenfeld pushed boundaries in his art and life. He started creating photographs at his leather goods shop in Amsterdam where he photographed his customers. Influenced by the idea that photography is art, he explored innovative ways to capture a fashion object without documenting it. He experimented with colors, darkroom techniques, mirrors and light. Apart from working in fashion, he created various fine art black and white nudes. His retrospective will be on view at Osborne Samuel Gallery in London from October 5th until October 29th.

Featured images: Erwin Blumenfeld; Left: Erwin Blumenfeld fro Vogue 1940 / Right: Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue 1953.

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George Hoyningen-Huene - A Seminal Fashion Photographer

Best known for his fashion photographs for Vogue Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, George Hoyningen-Huene was a Russian-born photographer who lived and worked in France, England and America. Making several contacts with the local art scene in Paris, he first started working for Harper’s Bazaar and Fairchild Magazine as a fashion draftsman. In 1925, he became the chief photographer for French Vogue. After moving to New York, he published two photobooks entitled Hellas and Egypt. He soon moved to Hollywood and started working in the film industry as a celebrity photographer. As John Esten wrote, he “had a vision of a remote and elusive feminine ideal best portrayed, he felt, by the serenity of classic Greek sculpture”.

Featured images: George Hoyningen-Huene; George Hoyningen-Huene for Vogue 1930 and 1935.

Guy Bourdin - The Perfectionist

The French photographer Guy Bourdin is best known for his provocative, shocking and exotic imagery. He was influenced by Man Ray, the cameraman Edward Weston and surrealist painters Balthus and Magritte. A painter his entire life and a self-taught photographer, Bourdin worked for fashion magazines such as Vogue and brands such as Chanel, Ungaro and Charles Jourdan. His images were characterized by suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, both in black and white and color. Emphasizing that the image is more important than the product, he explored realms between the absurd and the sublime. His work broke all conventions of fashion photography. Pushing the boundaries of color photography, his work was imbued with dramatic accents and intense color saturation. He was an image maker and a perfectionist.

Featured images: Guy Bourdin, used for illustrative purposes only.

Helmut Newton - The Master of Fashion Erotica

Pioneering erotically charged black and white fashion photographs, Helmut Newton was an important figure in contemporary art. Adorning glossy fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, his photographs mixed fashion, nudity, and beauty in daring compositions. He rose to prominence in the 1960s when he started exploring voyeuristic, sadomasochistic and lesbian imagery in his work, becoming one of the most controversial and talked about photographer of the time. Imbued with ambiguity, his photographs evoke mixed reactions in the viewer. In the 1950s and 1970s, he started experimenting with erotic pictorialism, and later in his career, he developed an interest in portraiture.

Featured images: Helmut Newton; Charlotte Rampling by Helmut Newton for Vogue 1976.

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Horst P. Horst - The Synonym For Style, Glamour and Elegance

A German-American fashion photographer, Horst P. Horst was best known for his stunning photographs of women. Considered a monumental photographer of the 20th century, he became a synonym for style, glamour and elegance. His rich and sophisticated opus that spanned across a sixty-year-long career significantly influenced the fashion photography of the time. Initially interested in the avant-garde art, he started working for the British Vogue after meeting George Hoyningen and Cecil Beaton. His trademark style characterized by the specific use of light and props have made him stand out from other fashion photographers of the time. One of his most iconic shots was The Mainbocher Corset for Vogue Paris in 1939. Apart from working in fashion, he also created a variety of photographs of interior architecture and still life.

Featured images: Horst P Horst, via highsnobiety.com; Left: Horst P Horst for Vogue 1940 / Right: Horst P Horst for Vogue.

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Irving Penn - Redefining American Fashion Photography

Best known for his sophisticated fashion images, incisive portraits, still lifes and found objects, Irving Penn revolutionized American fashion photography after the Second World War. Starting his career at the American Vogue, he established his reputation with streamlined, minimalist and careful compositions and dramatic lighting. Expressing the abstract interplay of line an volume, his photographs were imbued with great detail and clarity and communicated elegance and luxury. He created Vogue’s first and only still life cover. Wether he was working in fashion, portraiture or still life, his photographs were characterized by the same tonal subtlety and compositional mastery. His portraits bring the sense of drama, combining simplicity and directness. He managed to capture legends such as Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Igor Stravinsky, and Marlene Dietrich, among others.

Featured images: Irving Penn; Irving Penn for Vogue

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Richard Avedon - Capturing People's Essence

Along with Irving Penn, Richard Avedon has redefined the post-World War II American fashion photography. His portraits managed to bring out the essence of the person he sees through the lens. While working as a chief photographer at Harper’s Bazaar, he also contributed to Life, Look and Vogue. After breaking off with Harper’s Bazaar, he started working at Vogue where he shot 148 covers, including the iconic Twiggy cover in 1967. Apart from working in fashion, he also explored his cultural, political and personal passions, creating portraits of members of the American Civil Rights movement, patients in the mental institution and the Vietnam War. Working for big brands such as Calvin Klein, Revlon and Versace, Avedon managed to blur the lines between advertising and art.

Featured images: Richard Avedon; Left: Richard Avedon for Vogue 1998 / Right: Twiggy by Richard Avedon for Vogue.

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William Klein - A Photographer and Filmmaker

Best known as a fashion photographer for Vogue, William Klein’s unusual approach was often called “a crash course in what was not to be done in photography”. Developing visual language characterized by lot of accidental events, graininess, blur and distortion, Klein often used telephoto and wide-angle lenses as well as natural lighting and motion blur. In 1955, Klein started creating innovative and unusual fashion photographs for Vogue, taking fashion out of the studio into the streets. His images were imbued with certain rawness and chaotic mood and were highly expressive. He developed an interest in filmmaking in 1958, deciding to completely stop photographing in 1965. His best known films are Who Are You Polly Maggoo, Cassius The Great, Loin du Vietnam and Mr. Freedom that was considered to be one of the most anti-American films ever made.

Featured images: William Klein; Left: William Klein for Vogue / Right: William Klein for Vogue

  • Yasuhiro Wakabayashi, via exploregram com
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Yasuhiro Wakabayashi - The Master of Surreal Aesthetics

Professionally known as Hiro, Yasuhiro Wakabayashi is a Shanghai-born photographer who started as an assistant to Richard Avedon and Alexey Brodovich. Best known for his unique surreal aesthetics, he has changed the landscape of the 1960s and 1970s fashion photography. Due to unusual and stunning compositions, sophisticated technique, and the bold use of color, he is considered one of the most innovative fashion photographers of the 20th century. His photographs are imbued with a unique clarity and elegance produced with the unusual use of lighting, juxtaposition of unexpected elements, and his signature use of color. Apart from working in the fashion industry, he also explored portraiture and landscape.

Featured images: Yasuhiro Wakabayashi; Left: Yasuhiro Wakabayashi for Vogue / Right: Yasuhiro Wakabayashi for Vogue.

Sources:

  1. Anonymous. Vogue, Wikipedia, [August 22, 2016]
  2. Anonymous. World’s Greatest Fashion Photographers, Visual Arts Cork, [August 22, 2016]
  3. Adrian Hamilton. British Vogue showcases the amazing photography commissioned since its founding 100 years ago, The Independent, [August 22, 2016]