Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items. Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Allure. Over time, fashion photography has developed its own aesthetic in which the clothes and fashions are enhanced by exotic locations and story lines or could be having great models with different vehicles or animals just to be an eye catching effect.
Photography was developed in the 1830s, but the earliest popular technique, the daguerreotype, was unsuitable for mass printing. In 1856, Adolphe Braun published a book containing 288 photographs of Virginia Oldoini, Countess de Castiglione, a Tuscan noblewoman at the court of Napoleon III. The photos depict her in her official court garb, making her the first fashion model.
In the first decade of the 20th century, advances in halftone printing allowed fashion photographs to be featured in magazines. Fashion photography made its first appearance in French magazines such as La mode practique. In 1909, Condé Nast took over Vogue magazine and also contributed to the beginnings of fashion photography. Special emphasis was placed on staging the shots, a process first developed by Baron Adolf de Meyer, who shot his models in natural environments and poses. Vogue was followed by its rival, Harper's Bazaar, and the two companies were leaders in the field of fashion photography throughout the 1920s and 1930s. House photographers such as Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton transformed the genre into an outstanding art form. Europe, and especially Germany, was for a short time the leader in fashion photography.
But now with the change in time every country has taken considerable measures to promote the field of photography.
In the mid 1940s as World War II approached the focus shifted to the United States, where Vogue and Harper's continued their old rivalry. House photographers such as Irving Penn, Martin Munkacsi, Richard Avedon, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe would shape the look of fashion photography for the following decades. The artists abandoned their rigid forms for a much freer style. In 1936 Martin Munkacsi made the first photographs of models in sporty poses at the beach. Under the artistic direction of Alexander Brodovich, the Harper's Bazaar quickly introduced this new style into its magazine.
In postwar London, John French pioneered a new form of fashion photography suited to reproduction in newsprint, involving where possible reflected natural light and low contrast.
After the deaths of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts, some of today's most famous fashion photographers are Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino , and Annie Leibovitz.
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