Fashion photography has an extensive history and these three photographers truly helped to shape into what it is today. As they pioneers of fashion photography, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Melvin Sokolsky brought new and experimental ideas to the drawing board and it paid off! Their success is unparalleled and is truly something we can appreciate. By learning about the work of those before us, we can become inspired to create magnificent workk of our own.
Richard Avedon was one of the first photographers who started to shoot fashion outside instead of just in the studio! His work has appeared in several publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. He famously shot several celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol and Audrey Hepburn. Unlike the trend at the time, he liked making his subjects emote which as a factor that made his work stand out among others. His work is truly historical in the world of photography. His work is permanently on display at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and several others.
Irving Penn was one of the first successful fashion photographers to utilize the simplicity of a white or grey studio backdrop and make his subjects pop. He famously created a corner with his backdrops to create emphasis and direction to the subject. He used this technique in several of his photographs, including those in which he photographed artists like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. He once said that “A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word, effective.”
Melvin Sokolsky is best known for his ground-breaking “Bubble” series of fashion photographs for Harper’s Bazaar, featuring models beautifully floating in giant bubbles. His work goes beyond just fashion, but his photographs were transformative for the world of fashion and editorial photography. His work was so impressive that he became the photographer to have ever been asked to photograph the entire editorial content of McCall’s magazine in 1962. Though he was never formally trained, he was been invited to conduct various lectures and classes on photography throughout the United States.