“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, artworks 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.
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.”