Tag Archives: Fashion photography

History of Fashion Photography in magazines

Up until the development of photography fashion had been recorded and displayed in some form of art medium such as paintings or drawings and presenting garments to both men and women to show and promote what the well-dressed fashionable people were wearing.

Photography of fashion started in the early years of photography.   Photography was developed as an accurate alternative to drawings, engravings or paintings. Fox Talbot a pioneer of photography called photography ‘Photogenic Drawing’ that did not require the use or skills of an artist, pencils, pens and paints.

Since the 1840s photographers have been taking pictures of actresses, dancers and debutantes posed in their fine clothes showing the fashions of the day.

Fashion can be limited to just clothes or costume design. Fashion in its broadest sense includes clothes but also spans in to hair styles, makeup, shoes and accessories like bags, scarves gloves or jewelry. In this description of fashion of photography I am referring to the broad description covering all aspects of fashion and style.

Fashion in magazines were in the form of adverts by the clothes manufactures and shops. Fashion gained importance with the wider population with the rise of celebrity with the film industry and the interest in what the glamorous and famous personalities were wearing on or off screen. Fashion photography echoes the culture attitudes and styles of that time. Fashion photography is about transforming the imagery of clothing, creating a vision, a desire of fashion by the way it is represented in conveys identity and social status, producing a fascinating view of economic and social history.

Irving Penn a photographer for Vogue magazine said that fashion photography is about ‘selling dreams, not clothes.’ This contrasts with view of the portrait and style photographer David Bailey who described fashion photography as simply ‘a portrait of someone wearing a dress’.

The earliest examples of fashion magazines are Harpar’s Bazaar started in America in 1862. Vogue started in the America as a weekly newspaper in 1892. Vogue evolved into a monthly magazine and various editions are now published around the world. New printing processes of the 1890s allowed photographs to be printed with text, this enabled the proliferation of fashion magazines. The UK version of Vogue magazine was first published in 1916. Elle magazine a French style and fashion magazine that started in 1945 and claims to be the world’s largest fashion magazine.


Look at recent front covers of the fashion magazines, they all have a similar style of Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazine they are predominantly studio photographs, all have simple white or coloured backgrounds. They have one model or celebrity person looking straight out of the cover to make eye contact with the viewer. There is a slight variation in the poses front, back or side shot all with the head or body twisted so the eyes stare out of the cover.   The model is just the head, head and shoulders, head to chest shot or head to the thigh/knee shot.

Collection of Elle magazine covers


Collection of Vogue magazine covers


Collection of Harper’s Bazaar magazine covers


Teen Vogue Magazine is a fashion magazine aimed for under 21 audience. The covers are similar to the other covers, clear backgrounds, studio photographs, and a single model making eye contact with the viewer. The models are younger and colours brighter, typically the models are smiling. The models on the magazine covers aimed for the older audience the models rarely not smile.

Collection of Teen Vogue magazine covers


Fashion photography effectively shows clothes the design, shape of the item, the design of the fabric and how hair and makeup of the day is worn.

Fashion photography has been a subject that has predominantly been aimed to promote and maintain women’s interest in fashion. Fashion Photographers photograph garments and interpret the ideas of the season, range, designer or brand. Modern fashion photography nowadays is far more than photographing clothes, but has evolved into conveying contemporary complicated intriguing ideas, concepts and style.

A second milestone change in fashion photography was with the reduced cost of colour printing process for magazines. This enabled colour fashion photography to be included throughout a magazine, not just the occasional high cost colour feature. The buyer of the magazine could not only see the fashion styling of items, they could see the colours of materials and makeup.

Over time fashion photography in the style magazines evolved conveying new ideas, fashion photographers became well known for their style of photography, exotic locations were used to shoot photographs, the rise of the supermodel in the 1960s such as Twiggy and Bianca Jagger and Jean Shrimpton. The clothes created by some of the top fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood became the more outlandish. Fashion photography changed from a method to record and promote fashion, but a means of creating, making and driving fashion.


Fashion photography as an art form has changed and become more fantasy and staged to create a vibrant story telling imagery. The overall composition of backgrounds and staging and setting is as important as showing the clothes on the model with the intent of complementing the designers clothes.

The commercial fashion photography used on the covers of magazine has changed little over the years. Magazine publishers require a photographic image that sits centre, an uncluttered background and room around the central image to add information such as the title, issue details price of the magazine and details of feature articles within the magazine.


If you look at the covers of vogue from the 1930s to 1940s and compare them with todays modern covers the elements has not changed, the biggest change is the improvements in photography and printing techniques that have moved away from poster style to art work to photographs.


 1935vogue  1964vogue  2012vogue
Vogue December 1935


Vogue July 1964 Vogue April 2012















Male fashion magazine covers

Esquire magazine front covers


GQ magazine front covers


GQ and Esquire magazine covers follow the same style as the womens fashion magazines with the use of male models and male celebraties.  The men make the same eye contact looking straight out of the cover at the magazine viewer.




Edward Steichen Photographer In 1911 he produced a series of thirteen photographs printed in the magazine ‘Art et Décoration’. He later proclaimed he was responsible for ‘the first serious fashion photographs ever made.’ The models wore dresses by the designer Paul Poiret.



In the 1920s-1930s Vogue magazine experimented with new imagery that was a product of the surrealism art movement and featured photographs by Man Ray, unusual inventive images photographs.

Lillian Bassman developed her style of photography which was to create a mood, the clothes complimenting the style and elegance





Richard Avedon was famous for photographing models outside on location with city background.




David Bailey British fashion photographer, known for his studio based and documentary style.



Ronald Traeger was an American commercial photographer, who also took a range of experimental photographs and took many of the super model Twiggy.




Irving Penn the longest serving photographer for Vogue magazine.




Irving Penn, Mouth (for L’Oréal), New York, 1986, printed 1992, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of The Irving Penn Foundation. Copyright © The Irving Penn Foundation.

The Location fashion shoot

What worked well?

I believe these pictures have worked, I have produced a series of photographs that I intended to produce. The model and surrounding area is well illuminated. The angles of the walls, handrails and pillars all frame the model and lead the eye to focus on the model in the centre of the frame. The orange door behind the model frames her head. There is high contrast between the white walls, white ceiling, the coloured handrails, bright yellow curb strips and the dark floors. The proportions of the model fit the portrait image.

I had used this car park for a previous assignment, because I really like the industrial atmosphere it gives.


How did I create the pictures?

I created these pictures using a digital SLR camera, shooting pictures in RAW format to make it easier for post processing and editing if needed.

The model was asked to stand facing in 3 directions Left, Right and straight at the camera. Only the available car park fluorescent lighting and natural light was used. A reflector was used to help bounce light from the lamp and natural daylight on to the model.

I had used this car park for a previous assignment, because I really like the industrial atmosphere it gives.


How can I improve the pictures?

I can improve the pictures if the model wore coloured or light trousers, wearing dark trousers the models legs are blending into the background.

Additional studio lamps might help make improve the brightness of the white walls and throw more light on to the model. Unfortunately because the location is very public without additional help it was not possible to set-up and use additional lighting.

The addition of a luxury sports car in the background or motor bike or motor scooter for the model to sit and pose on might have added more interest.

Changes of clothes could also have improved the picture, the same model in changes of outfits to give some variation. The logistics of time and facilities to change prevented this from happening.

A male model with the female model would have introduced a more interesting dimension and would increase the diversity of the intended male and female magazine audience.


Does it fit in with the brief?

The photographs fit are fashion orientated, the female model in a ‘male’ environment is intended to be attractive to both genders. The use of a young model so that the audience can identify with the age range. The clothes worn are stylish high street fashion that is within the budget of most people of the target audience. No exclusive designer goods were used.

There is space in the photograph around the model for the publishers to include the magazine additional information that will need to be added to a magazine cover; magazine title, issue details, price, details about feature articles.


Discuss how your front cover will appeal to the audience

This front cover is intended to appeal to the mixed sex audience because of the environment that is masculine and contains images of a female model. The use of a models with a body shape that is close to a ‘real’ body shape, not the perfect skinny model and airbrushed features to create an image that would make the audience feel defeated by ‘perfection’.

The intention is also to use the model wearing everyday casual clothes so that the audience can identify and enable the intended to form a connection with the model.


Explain the thinking behind your front cover idea 

The thinking behind my front cover was to make the pictures focus on the model and taking close-up pictures but still covering here identity. This would suggest that what you see even though you can see something is not always the truth.





These issues are over and above the requirements of Health and Safety for a studio.

Risk Assessment of the location, items to take into consideration – Visit the location before the shot and identify potential risks, access to the location, how where and when will equipment be required during the shot, will transport be required?

Will you be working where road traffic could cause you a problem, or you cause a problem to road traffic?

Is there a safe and secure place to leave equipment?

If the model is required to change clothes, is there a safe secure and private place that this can be done?

Will you be working where pedestrians could cause you a problem, or you cause a problem to pedestrians?

Do you require pedestrians to be removed from the location?

Do you need a permit to photograph?

Do you require additional props? If so could any of the props be considered ‘dangerous’?

Is the location a known area for crime?

Do you need assistants to hold items and to be an extra pair of eyes and ears while the photographer and model(s) concentrate on the shoot?

Is the time of day going to cause problems for access or increased risk from any of the above identified potential risks?  Day time or night time

Will there be electric power points available?  If power is available attention will be required to ensure the trailing leads are not going to cause a trip hazard or sharp objects will not cut the cables.  The power sockets are not overloaded with more equipment that is permitted to  draw too much power.

Mario Testino – Photographer

Born in Peru in 1954.   Testino has taken photographs of many of the popular super models like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen.

He is also known as a portrait photographer and has photographed famous celebrities Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Britney Spears and Princess Diana.

Testino has taken many photographs for fashion magazine covers for publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair.  Testino has worked on fashion campaigns for fashion houses like Gucci, Burberry, Versace, and Calvin Klein.

Photographs below

The Towel series are a collection of people photographed holding a towel to hide their modesty.  The lighting is very effective to show the muscled bodies and soft body lines.





The photograph of Courtney Love that was used by VMagazine I really like, the makeup applied to the face of Courtney Love is bright and applied in a simple and smudged way that makes the viewer focus in on her eyes to see if she has been hurt or not.

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COURTNEY LOVE, @VMAGAZINE, 2006 #TestinoArchive

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Web sites to see more of his work






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Creaction and Evaluation of the studio pictures.


The brief

Produce a photograph and 3 supporting images suitable for the cover of a fashion magazine aimed at both male and females between the ages of 16 to 24.

Explain the thinking behind your magazine front cover idea 

I want to create a cover that is mysterious and intriguing for both male and female audience.   Coloured lighting effects and the models wearing wispy scarfs to hide their faces help generate the effect.  The obscured faces is intended to introduce an androgynous look. The viewer has to look closely to decide if one of the models are male or if both models are female.

The photographs were taken in a studio so that the background would be clear and uncluttered and not cause distraction for text to be added to the magazine cover.

I shoot the photographs in portrait with space above the head and to the sides of the models to leave room for the magazine title and details of feature articles inside the magazine.

My intention was not to use Photoshop to change the appearance of the models, no “Airbrushing” or modifying shapes. I want the images to be as natural and untouched as possible.

Discuss how your front cover will appeal to the audience:

Fashion photography is about the image of beauty, the perfect face, toned body and perfect shape. Tall slender female bodies with long legs, flat tummies and long necks, faces with high cheek bones. Male models with broad shoulders narrow waist to give a triangular shaped torso and toned abdomen muscles. Chiselled face.

I wanted to use models with ‘real’ body shapes from the magazines intended age range, wearing casual clothing available from high-street stores.  The intention is that the audience find it appealing and can identify, be inspired by the image, not feel defeated by ‘perfection’.

What worked well? 

I believe these pictures have worked well, this is because I have managed to use high contrast pictures that standout making you more interested and inclined to look deeper in to the pictures. These pictures have also worked well because I created what I intended with the scarfs covering the models faces, making the picture more about the clothing instead of the issues of beauty about the models. This approach makes it easier for the audience to put themselves in the shoes of the models as it is not based on looks. I also think that these pictures have worked well because they all fit in with each other as a sears of pictures and as they have a common theme running through the pictures.

How can I improve the pictures?

I can improve these pictures by using similar dark coloured scarves. The dark coloured scarf worked best, it did not reflect the light from the lamps so that the outline of the models face is just visible and the suggestion of some of the facial features. The light coloured scarf reflects more light so the outline of the models face is not as visible.

I will clean the lens filters to ensure there is no dust particles on the camera filter this would. This will prevent any specks of dirt appearing in the picture.

If there are any specs of dirt on the picture I will edit the images with Photoshop using the healing brush tool just to remove the flecks. I can also improve the series of pictures by making them all landscape or portrait making all the pictures consistent and uniform with each other.

How much of my original idea did I have to change?

I didn’t have to change much from my original idea.   The one change I did make was to photograph the models against a white background and use coloured lighting to create the mood. My original idea was to use Rembrandt lighting against a black background.

I decided to shoot my pictures using a white background as I thought the lighter background would be brighter and contrast better making the clothes standout more. This change also made the pictures fit better with the brief to show the fashion.

Does it fit in with the brief?

I have managed to make the pictures appeal to both male and female audience. I achieved this by hiding the faces to bring in a sense of mystery and ghostly effect on the models.

The obscured faces is intended to introduce an androgynous look. The viewer has to look closely to decide if one or both models are female or if one of the models is male.

The coloured lighting effects also sets a mysterious mood that both sexes will find interesting and intriguing.

The photograph is not too busy or distracting, there is space around the models for the magazine to add additional text graphics and feature article information.

How did I create the pictures?

The studio lighting was configured, two studio lamps set at body height 70o-80 o on either side of the models. One light with a red/purple gel, the other with a blue gel to throw colour on to the models and the white backdrop. The use of two lamps was to prevent any of the lights leaving one of the models in strong shadow.  A low powered flash was used, placed in a Softbox above and at 45o to the models generate highlighting.

Photoshop was used to increase the clarity and contrast of the image. This also helped to make the pictures stand out, making the colours brighter and more eye-catching. I did not use Photoshop to change any of the physical attributes of the models.






studio ideas

Studio ideas

Idea 1

Take a series of pictures of the models focused on certain features and body parts such as just the eyes, mouth and hands. For the main photograph I would compose the picture of the back of the models head. I would use a female model for this making the pictures appeal to the female audience. I would also make the model were male dominated clothing, although with the close up shoots the audience will not see much of the clothing, The intention is that the glimpse of male clothing and the close up of the eyes, lips, hands, back of head is so the pictures will be intriguing to both male and female audience.

How can I make this fit in with in the requirement to appeal to male audience?

The model would hold tools such as screwdrivers hammers spanners. The face and hands smudged with oil and grease from the tools.

Idea 2

My second idea is to take pictures using female models with a scarf or blankets covering their face. The idea behind the picture is to make the photographs all about what the model is wearing instead of what the model looks like. This also makes the pictures stand out making it different to other fashion pictures. I will be taking these pictures in the studio using gel lighting, using the gels I will change the colour and mood of the lighting to purple making the pictures more atmospheric.


Idea 3

Take pictures of a male and female model entwined in poses, but the heads of the models are not visible.  Their heads are on each others shoulders so that the face cannot be seen.  Their arms and possibly their legs wrapped or folded into each othe so that they appear as one.  The clothes they wear would, one wearing very bright colours the other very dark colours.  Experiment with both wearing the same colour clothes so that two bodies appear as one.

Idea 4

Using both a male and female model, coat their faces with pale foundation makeup to remove with the aim of making both faces appear very similar.

Apply strong coloured multiple layers of eye shadow or eye liners in a variety shades across the closed eyes.  Coat the lips with strong coloured lip gloss in a variety of shades.

Photograph both faces of both the male and female model.  Use strong lighting from the front to flatten the facial features.

Use Photoshop to divide the faces and then create a composite new face with elements of both the male and female model.  This is taking the idea of the lips by Irving Penn did for a L’Oreal advert and expanding and developing the idea further.

The use of male and female image would be interesting when combined as one face.

The idea behind this image was to make the pictures focus on the models and taking close-up pictures hiding thier identity by ‘mashing up’ the images to make one face. This would suggest that what you see even though you can see something is not always the truth.

face_design79121_1999750Irving Penn – Mouth (L’Oreal)

Idea 5

The models to distort their faces with clear sticky tape.  The tape used to change the shape of the their faces, the nose and eyes pulled in diferent directions.

I did not use this idea becuase the application and removal of the tape would be painful to the model.  The sticky tape would reflect the light and be very visible in the photographs.





Madame Peripetie fashion photographer

Madame Peripetie or Sylwana Zybura

Madam Peripetie, there is not much known about this phtotgrapher, she is a Polish photographer based in Germany

An unusual fashion photographer that has an unusual surreal approach to fashion and style photography. The models faces are often obscured by sculptured objects, the model is dressed in dramatic clothing and make-up. The model’s face and body is often hidden or disguised with the heavy use of make-up, wigs, body paint sculptures or prosthetics. The models also wear high conceptual fashion clothing.  Some of the models break with convention. they do not have the typical tall thin model body shape, but some models are larger

Madame Peripetie uses colour as part of the theme, combined with strong lighting. Often models are shot against a dark or black background.to provide stunning effects.


Click on these links to see more of Madame Peripetie’s works.



The surreal images make the viewer question what they are looking at, is the model, the clothes, a piece of conceptual art or a photographic composition.  I like the work becuase I believe it has all these elements.  The one thing that these photographs are not is predicable clothes fashion photographs.



Location photographic ideas

The brief

A fashion magazine front cover shot at a location.  The front page image is to be “Bold & Beautiful”.  The fashion magazine is to appeal to 16 to 24 year old male and female audience.  The image to create an impact.

Idea 1

First idea would be taking pictures of a female model aged between 18-20 years in different surroundings that would be considered as masculine and appealing to men such as car parks or garages.  If possible try standing the model in front of an expensive aspirational car if one can be found in the car park, taking care to avoid including the car number plate in the shot, or if it is visible, to remove the car registration numbers by editing the image.  The intention is that the model will appeal to the target female audience, the industrial look of the location and the female model will attract the majority of the target male audience.

I will experiment taking blurry, slightly out of focus images so that the viewer can only see the outlines and impression of the model, mix between full length body shots and cropped upper body and head shots.   I will be asking the model to wear high-street everyday casual bright clothing, not high fashion so that the audience can identify and relate to the model.

The makeup to be worn by the model will be strong colours such as bright red lipstick making the facial features more eye-catching and making the overall composition interesting and intriguing.  The soft focus blurring is intended to draw the viewers attention, to give an impression of someone, but to invite them to look deeper inside the cover.

Idea 2

Second idea is to take pictures using a male model aged 18-24. I would position the model outside standing in front of a plain wall holding or wearing a mask with a woman’s face in front of their face, possibly a very male face mask.  The woman’s facemask decorated with a variety of styles using makeup – lipstick, false eyelashes and blusher on the cheeks.  The man’s mask decorated with lipstick for the lips, painted on moustach and false short eyelashes.   I would also try using a balloon with faces drawn upon it held by the model in front of the models face.   Mix between full length body shots and cropped upper body and head shots.

I would use a minimum of four pictures with different face masks covering the models actual face.    I would experiment combining four images to make a montage, four similar photographs of full body, upper half body and head.  The montage to form an interesting composition.

The male model to wear high street shop casual clothing, not high fashion so that the  majority of male viewers can identify with the male models clothing.

The mix of female and male facemasks will fascinate both male and female viewers so that both sexes would be interested at looking further inside the magazine.

Idea 3

Third idea is to take pictures of both a male and female model of similar ages, between 18-24.  Photograph the models standing side by side with the same background, both models if possible to be of similar height and build wearing similar or the same clothes outfits but in contrasting colours facing the camera.  The idea is to take their photographs, then to edit the photographs taking horizontal slices and switching them around like a child’s puzzle, the head of the male on top the torso of the female, on top of the legs of the male on top of the feet of the female.

The lighting to be stricking the models at approximately 45 degrees so that slight shadows will be cast to highlight the facial features and the depth and layers of clothing.

This idea I believe introduces a humourous element and a sense of fun that will appeal to both intended sexes of the audience.  The mix and match images will reinforce the youthful appeal, but it is not intended to look childish.  The theme of mix and matching could be continued as a story theme inside the magazine in photographs.

I have experimented below combining photographs of a man and a child on the beach to give an impression of how it could work.




explaining the thinking behind my trial images for the front cover image

The location shoot

Explain the thinking behind your front cover image?

Fashion photography has pushed and perpetuated the idea of the perfect body shape showing flawless skin complexions models without any imperfections. The perfect body images, body shape, weight and looks, making many people feel inadequate and suffer issues of self-esteem especially in the target audience of the fashion magazine aimed at 16-24 olds, although body image issues are becoming increasingly observered in younger children and with older people that have remained or become body consious.

I want to show a different view from the usual fashion and fashion photographer’s image.  I want to experiment with a style of fashion photographs that move away from the stereo type ‘perfect body’ that can cause or add to the stress and peer pressure to try and attain the body beautiful look.  For women, the thin hour glass shape, for men the triangular chest and torso shape with defined muscles, both sexes with perfect skin.

Think that is what the models look like showing people a distorted truth and fantasy on beauty in the fashion industry.


I will be using a fellow student from my course as my model, they will be within  the magazine target age audience of 16-24 year olds.  The intention is that the viewer will better identify with people of their own age.


The brief does not demand the models wear high fashion costumes.  The model will therefore be wearing casual ‘everyday’ high street clothing.


The location I want to use I would like to try several backgrounds, depending on what I can find suitable, the weather conditions at the time of shooting.

  • Simple uncluttered background, the use of a brick or concrete wall to be used as the most simple backdrop.
  • If a wall can be found that is colourful well painted with artistic graffiti, I would to try this as a contrast to the plain brick/concrete wall.
  • Urban industrial environment, multi-story car park with industrial lighting, the strong horizontal, vertical and straight lines to contrast with the curves of the models clothing.
  • Find a location that has a large reflective surface such as a shop window so that I can photograph the reflection of the model, ensuring I as the phtographer is out of shot.  The intention is that other objects may appear in the frame from the shop window adding to the composition.  The colours reflected will change depending on the light.
  • Find a locations of a meadow or grassland with the model laying down, if the model has long hair, the hair can flow around the head like a halo, or be combed over the models face to hide the face.


Lighting on location will be by natural light, artificial lighting will be too heavy to carry and take too long to set up.  The use of reflectors to bounce light to create or remove hard shadows will be used when it is considered needed.

The Canon dSLR has a flash that if needed can be used.  The flash is located immediately above the camera lens so there is a potential risk of ‘red-eye’. The flash would be used as a fill-in flash, paper can be taped over the flash if needed to reduce the power of the flash.

What is my idea?

My idea is to take portrait pictures of a model, I will then make the pictures blurred or slightly out of focus making it difficult to concentrate solely on the model in the picture as an object. You will see the outlines of the model in the picture you will get an impression of the model.

I will accompany the main picture with 3 more pictures of the model from different angles, from the side of her and looking up towards her from the ground. I will then have the model were bright coloured lipstick so it would stand out in the pictures bringing your attention to the person.


IMG_8889.jpg     IMG_8887.jpg

My idea Tester shots

Cover composition

The image has room above the model to accomodate the magazine title, details of the issue and price information.

There is space available for additional feature titles about the content within the magazine should it be rquired.