Filed under

High Life/High Style

As Cecil Beaton said in 1975, "It is up to the fashion photographer to create an illusion. In doing so, he is not behaving with dishonesty, but when properly invoked, the result is not merely an illusion; rather, it makes the observer see what he wishes to see." Since its inception in the 1880s, fashion photography has generated some of the most widely recognizable, provocative, and enduring imagery of our time. In particular, the genre presents an idealized and dreamlike vision that allows viewers to escape into the picture and enter a rarefied world where they can become participants. Photographers’ emphasis on desires and fantasies underscores the medium and lends itself easily to the exclusivity associated with fashion and celebrity. The legacy of fashion photography has left sophisticated and well-crafted images which have set a high standard of aesthetic beauty and image composition. Today’s most talented photographers have a strong foundation to work from and are finding a contemporary voice to create fresh, great images that transport viewers into their vision.

Cathleen Naundorf creates fashion photographs in dream-like settings with an elegant and Old World aesthetic. Documentary representation is less important than an overall atmospheric, pictorial effect often achieved through her work with large-format Polaroid cameras. The stunning and unique haute couture designs in Naundorf’s work are a result of her being privileged with almost unlimited access to the archives of such haute couture houses as Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Lacroix, Armani, Saab, and Gaultier. As the artistic director for each of her shoots, she develops the concepts herself and constructs interesting “mise-en-scenes” inviting viewers to enter an atmosphere of exclusive elegance.

With a career spanning decades, Clive Arrowsmith is a master of lighting and composition in his fashion images and celebrity portraits working equally in both black and white and color. He lends a sometimes psychedelic and hallucinogenic allure to his photographs suiting a mood of fantasy and beauty. As a part-time “rock ‘n’ roller” attached to the music scene, Arrowsmith has conjured up fresh images through their often spontaneous quality. He has worked extensively for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Esquire and is the only photographer to have photographed the Pirelli Calendar two years in succession.

Having made himself a name with his fresh and theatrical take on fashion in the 1960s, Jim Lee is the “original wild child of fashion photography.” He took photo shoots out of the rigid studios and placed them in a story context changing the course of the fashion genre. The striking and sometimes controversial photographic style that centers on a narrative with a cinematic quality meant complicated set-ups and ambitious outdoor productions resulting in dramatic imagery. Lee’s stylish photography immerses the viewer in his unique worlds asking them to reach beyond the edges of the frame and engage in the story.

Arthur Elgort was one of the first photographers to show models in a more natural state usually wearing little makeup and posing in outdoor settings, offering an intimate entry into their private world. He has a stylistic freedom that allows the spontaneous energy and joy of the moment to be expressed by creating disarmingly warm images. Elgort has captured now-famous images of supermodels such as Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss among others for magazines and fashion campaigns including Vogue where he has worked for over forty years.

by Kyle Harris