Fashion Photography: A Brief History

While not intended to be comprehensive, this is a general timeline that depicts, in chronological order, the history of fashion photography.

1911-Edward Steichen‘s photos of several gowns appear in Art et Decoration. For the first time in a publication, the images are more than simple reference photos for an illustrator to copy. The intent of these images is to evoke mood.

Edward Steichen's photo of Paul Poiret's designs

Edward Steichen’s photo of Paul Poiret’s designs

George Hoynengen-Huene becomes chief of photography at Vogue Paris.

George Hoynengen-Huene becomes chief of photography at Vogue Paris in 1925.

Mario Testino China issue

George Hoynengen-Huene becomes chief of photography at Vogue Paris in 1925. Prior to this he worked as Horst P. Horst’s assistant. He moved to New York and began working for Harper’s Bazaar in 1933.

Cecil Beaton photo for Vogue magazine.

Cecil Beaton photo for Vogue magazine.

Cecil Beaton-starts working at Vogue magazine in 1927

Host P. Horst's photo of the Mainbacher corset shot in 1939 in Vogue's Paris studio.

Host P. Horst’s photo of the Mainbacher corset shot in 1939 in Vogue’s Paris studio.

Horst P. Horst begins working at Vogue in Paris in 1931.

Martin Munkasci's 1933 image of model Lucile Brokaw running on the beach for Harper's Bazaar.

Martin Munkasci’s 1933 image of model Lucile Brokaw running on the beach for Harper’s Bazaar.

Martin Munkacsi, a Hungarian photographer, starts working for the Berliner Illustrate Zeitung in Berlin in 1928. Renowned for his action sports photography he shot fashion as well and was a major influence in both fields. Both Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avedon were influenced by Munkacsi’s work.

Munkasci’s 1933 image of Lucile Brokaw running along the beach for Harper’s Bazaar was revolutionary in that it took fashion photography out of the studio and into the outdoors.

Munkasci's Woman jumping a puddle for Harper's Bazaar 1934

Munkasci’s Woman jumping a puddle for Harper’s Bazaar 1934

Alexy Brodovich becomes art director at Harper’s Bazaar in 1934.

Alexy Brodovich was art director at Harper's Bazaar from 1934 to 1958. He brought simplicity and elegance to the pages of the magazine.

Alexy Brodovich was art director at Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 to 1958.

Alexy Brodovich, the art director at Harper’s Bazaar was a major influence on the work of photographers Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Hiro and dozens of designers who studied under him at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, known today as the University of the Arts where he launched the school’s advertising design program in 1930.

At Harper’s Bazaar Brodovich forever changed the role of the art director. He not only initiated story ideas for the magazine, he collaborated with photographers and was present and fully engaged on set at shoots.

A Louise Dahl-Wolfe cover for Harper's Bazaar

A Louise Dahl-Wolfe cover for Harper’s Bazaar

Louise Dahl-Wolfe is hired by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in 1936. In 1957 Snow left the magazine and both Brodovich and Dahl-Wolfe followed in 1958. Dahl-Wolfe was a major influence on Richard Avedon, who said, “She was the bar we all measured ourselves against.”

An Irving Penn cover for Vogue Magazine's April 1, 1950 issue

An Irving Penn cover for Vogue Magazine’s April 1, 1950 issue

Irving Penn is hired as assistant art director at Vogue magazine in 1943.

Richard Alvedon's Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), at Francois-Premier, Paris, published in Harper's Bazaar September 1957 issue.

Richard Alvedon’s Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), at Francois-Premier, Paris, published in Harper’s Bazaar September 1957 issue.

Dovima with elephants 1955 campaign for Dior by Richard Avedon.

Dovima with elephants 1955 campaign for Dior by Richard Avedon.

After a two-year stint in the U.S. Merchant Marine 22-year-old Richard Avedon is hired by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in 1945. The second world war is over and Avedon, greatly influenced by Munkasci and Brodovich, revolutionizes fashion photography by bringing a much livelier and modern look to his photographs.

Richard Alvedon's Elise Daniels with circus performers in Paris, 1948.

Richard Alvedon’s Elise Daniels with circus performers in Paris, 1948.

Richard Alvedon's photograph of actress Nastassja Kinski and snake for Vogue magazine's October 1981 issue.

Richard Alvedon’s photograph of actress Nastassja Kinski and snake for Vogue magazine’s October 1981 issue.

"Le Smoking" shot by Helmut Newton in 1975 for Vogue magazine.

“Le Smoking” shot by Helmut Newton in 1975 for Vogue magazine.

The Yves Saint Laurent smoking suit for women was shot by Helmut Newton on a street in his Paris neighborhood in 1975 for Vogue magazine.

Herb Ritts 1988 British Vogue cover, Tatjana Veiled

Herb Ritts 1988 British Vogue cover, Tatjana Veiled

Annie Leibovitz for Vogue magazine

Annie Leibovitz for Vogue magazine

Mario Testino shot the entire special edition of the December 2013 issue of Vogue devoted to China.

Mario Testino shot the entire special edition of the December 2013 issue of Vogue devoted to China.

Patrick Demarchelier photo

Patrick Demarchelier photo


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