“Lights, camera, clothes, models…” this is the call to action for the world of fashion photography. In the world of fashion, fame, and stardom, photographers must learn to function as directors, choreographers, and creative artists. From the early development of the camera to the present time, photographers have been both challenged and seduced by the possibilities of the camera to surpass the world of objects, clothes, and models and create a world of imagination, style, and cultural sophistication. Fashion photography at its best is a perfect amalgamation of the content presented by the photographers and their desire to capture a specific mood, feeling, or spirit. As the viewer gazes at a memorable fashion based photograph they will be visually transported for an instant to an imaginary time and space and live in an imaginary and subliminal world. Photographers have found creative ways to mythologize, mystify, and ultimately sell the garments represented in their finished pictures. The pictures become more than photographs – they engage our individual and social psyche and create a desire, on the part of the viewer, to participate vicariously in the lifestyle that a great photograph suggests.
Within the many disciplines of culture, art works have been the product of assignments – Renaissance painters produced great paintings for Popes and Kings, great musicians produced concertos and librettos for noblemen and rulers, and great architects produced lasting monuments for public governments. In a similar way, talented fashion photographers have produced iconographic imagery for designers and publications alike. Top photographers in the industry have had working relationships with some of the most influential fashion designers such as Vionnet, Schaparelli, Chanel, and St. Laurent, just to name a few, and have generated photographs for top publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Maison & Jardin, Elle, etc. Together, all these components allowed for the creation of the genre of ‘fashion photography” beginning early in the 20th century.
Jim Lee’s work is identifiable through the theatrical components to his fashion imagery. Often called the “Guy Bourdin of the UK,” Lee was born in London in 1945 and began his career in the 60s. Although he worked closely with big names such as Vogue’s Anna Wintour and important fashion designers such as Ossie Clark, Yves St. Laurent, and Gianni Versace, Lee was never one to be stifled by the conventions of his time. Each of his images tell a story, and in each narrative, the model and the clothes are synthesized into unique and often surprising mise en scènes. Whether shooting in black and white or in color, Lee composes exciting, unexpected, and idiosyncratic images.
Albert Watson is one of the most exciting and dynamic photographers bridging interests in portraiture, fashion and popular culture. Mr. Watson was born in Edinburgh Scotland and moved to the U.S. in 1970. He immediately began a career in commercial photography in which he has produced over 200 Vogue covers, 40 Rolling Stone covers and has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, GQ and numerous other magazines. He produces video as well and has directed over 500 commercials. His versatility in different mediums is evident in his photography. Whether he is shooting portraits, fashion based pictures, or iconographic images of popular culture his pictures creatively use devices like repetition, fragmentation, and a variety of camera lenses to come up with fresh takes on his subjects. His pictures can range from the beautiful to the bizarre and haunting. Sometimes inherent qualities of the sitter are echoed in their visual treatment, and sometimes the pictures have an environmental feel in which the setting and subject are seamlessly united. He is an impresario with a camera equally at home whether he is producing images for the Gap or Chanel or producing photographs for museum shows.
Robert Farber has had a highly distinguished career shooting for clients such as Bloomingdales, Saks, Christian Dior, L’Oreal, etc. He has worked with top supermodels such as Gia Carangi, Linda Evangelista, Christie Brinkley and has been published in Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair as well as producing over 10 books on photography. His career as a published photographer began in the 1970s and he is still actively creating new bodies of work. He brings to his images a pointallistic and impressionist style that uses refined lighting as well as films inherent grainy and half-tone resolution. He has produced work that is based on fashion, as well as landscape. In addition he is well respected for a large body of photographs dedicated to exploring the feminine form. His subjects have all been romantically transformed through his poetic style. He has borrowed from sources as diverse as 19th century painting, classic literature, and popular culture. He is a prime example of an artist who is able to balance fashion, commercial, and fine art careers.
Brian Duffy revolutionized fashion photography with his unorthodox approach to shooting his models. Whether in the studio or on location, Duffy’s main focus was to capture what was happening in the moment, because as he describes, “after it, comes nothing interesting.” There is no separating artist and image when it comes to Duffy, and his compelling photographs bring his two-dimensional prints back to life in three dimensions. The artist began his career in photography at British Vogue and went on to shoot commercially for numerous publications including Glamour, Esquire, The Observer, The Sunday Times, and Telegraph Magazine. As part of the three great British photographers of the 60s that also included David Bailey and Terence Donovan, it is said Duffy brought reality to Vogue, and he went on to professionally photograph 25 years of British culture and fashion. These men were not only photographers but became celebrities. His images are playful, yet sophisticated representations of the 60s and 70s that still have exuberance and continue to dazzle. Brian Duffy chronicled the rise of British pop and fashion and his photographs helped define the “British Beat.”
Harry Benson has captured many different subjects and photographed more interesting stories throughout his illustrious career then almost any living photographer. From early to late, from musician to model, actor to designer, Benson’s portraits and photojournalism function as a piece of history. Harry Benson has had his camera in front of legends in art, history, politics, music, fashion, and theatre, with brilliant results. His photographs of the Beatles will remain some of the most notable images ever taken. The range of his work is almost encyclopedic. He has shot for Life, Time, Newsweek, Town & Country, Vanity Fair, Paris Match, G.Q., Esquire, W, The London Sunday Times Magazine, People, Vogue, and Architectural Digest. His photography has been showcased in over 40 solo exhibitions.
“Under the Bright Lights – Fashionable Moments” is an abbreviated survey of fashion photography from as early as the 1940s to the present. Other notable photographers in the show include Frank Horvat, Horst P. Horst, and Cathleen Naundorf. Each of the artists has a distinct style and brings a fresh take to the world of fashion photography. They possess aesthetic qualities singularly characteristic of their individual work that both clash with and complement each other, creating an exhibition that provides a fresh outlook on fashion photography contemporarily. As documents in history, each photograph is a snapshot of time capable of seducing the viewer and allowing them a rich visual experience.