Fashion Photography, a field which is often considered to be a new field in photography, actually dates back to court of Napoleon III, in the mid-19th century. Before moving to greater detail of how this art developed, let us first define what it really is.
Fashion photography falls under the umbrella of fine art photography, where fashion items, including clothes, shoes, jewelry, perfumes, bags and various other accessories, are focused, usually for the purpose of their promotion. It is a primary form of visual art, involving elements of pop culture as well as contemporary art.
This art was initiated in 1856 when Braun published photographs of a Tuscan noblewoman. Dressed in the formal attire of the Napoleon era, she became the first fashion model in history, and Braun, he first fashion photographer. During the 1860’s, this trend developed in France where fashion houses used social celebrities to model their clothes and have the photographed by fashion photographers. Photographs of professional models were not published until the late 1880’s.
Fashion photography became a growing profession in the early 20th century when Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other major fashion magazines started competing for readership, not just on their designs, but on their fashion photography techniques as well. Since then, fashion photography has become an inherent part of the fashion industry as a whole.
Throughout the 20th and 21st century, many trends have been witnessed in fashion photography, out of which the most popular are as follows.
This was the era where dramatic changes took place as new designers and photographers emerged and created a photography trend which was more energetic and spontaneous than the previous, studio shots. The industry was greatly influenced by the youth, and resulted in fashion photography taking a more artistic approach. Photography took a bold stance using surrealism, along with many photographers using drugs and other “hippie” elements into their work.
As feminism movements gained momentum, many social changes took place, along with a change in fashion photography. Fashion photographers implemented an artistic approach, while photographing overweight models, in edgy and rebellious outfits. While some photographers experimented with explicit images, other went on to try a more casual approach. The introduction of denim pants (jeans) made fashion photography more down to earth.
Today, fashion photographers go to great lengths experimenting with artistic approaches, as well as redesigning studio shots using modern technology.
Fashion photography has made great progress over the course of 150 years. It is one of the most diverse, yet consistently growing, industries, making new developments every day.