Fashion photography is everywhere. In high-gloss magazines, billboards and on our computer screens. There are some brilliant minds behind these pictures, not to mention behind the lenses that captured them. Sometimes, a fashion photographer becomes so prolific, so iconic that we only need to glance at a photo to know who took it. But very often, we never put a name to the one who is just as important as the model.
In this post, we want to uncover a few of the brightest photographers working in the genre, from young to old, male to female. You might recognize one or two of these names, but if you don’t, it’s about time you got to know them.
This legend is definitely old school, but he makes the list because of his involvement in the hey-day of the supermodel in the 80s and early 90s. He got personal with Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista when they were at the height of their fame. However, in an iD magazine article he notes about the current scene, “There are lots of beautiful models but there aren’t really any new supermodels.” Certainly, models today don’t demand the same attention and fervor as they did during the golden days of supermodels. Tracking Elgort’s career from the early seventies to now is like a history lesson in the evolution of contemporary fashion, especially in our attitudes towards models as cult figures.
Elgort’s photography combines fashion, celebrity and compositional flair that make a few of his works truly memorable. His series of Kate Moss portraits, many of which can be browsed at the fine art and photography website Lumas, feature the legend in a bikini pushing a grocery cart full of shopping in a parking lot, or waiting for her laundry in the fantastic, ‘Kate at the Launderette.’ A genius when it comes to composing pictures as if they were paintings, his ‘Italian Wedding’ photograph, featuring lean and tanned models in lingerie smoking on a bed, with a crucifix on the wall behind them, naturally, pleases art critics and fashionistas alike.
Jürgen Teller is one of those photographers everyone knows about. He was the only artist to shoot for Marc Jacobs’ editorial campaigns from 1998-2009, so anyone who opened a fashion magazine then will recognize his signature style – and have noticed his prominently displayed name at the top of the ad. White, washed out backgrounds with pops of intense color and seemingly random, spontaneous scenes are what makes his work so iconic. He excels at stark portraits that emphasize naturalness over styled beauty, often taking close-ups that border on unflattering. You can’t ignore his refreshing influence on contemporary fashion photography.
Following in the footsteps of, or rather, breaking away from, the traditionally male photographers working today is Cass Bird. Her daring works capture the vibrancy and attitude of her subjects, seeming to bare their personalities like no other photographer can. Looking at her photos, one has the feeling that the distance between the viewer and subject is completely absent. What’s more, she appears particularly open to moments of play and joking that seem to be taboo in many fashion photographer’s collections.