Fashion Photography Advertising In High- Term Paper

Length: 14 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Art  (general) Type: Term Paper Paper: #27422426 Related Topics: Fashion, Photography, Aesthetics, Art Of Fiction
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Later on, throughout the 1930s, fashion photographs were principally created in studios, to take advantage of being able to carefully control lighting, composition and pose (Grossman 1). However, outdoor photo shoots were not unheard of. It has been noted that these outdoor photographs "carried an allusion of authenticity and spontaneity that made the fashionable clothes appear more vibrant than the sculptural effects of studio photographs could achieve" (Grossman 1).

With the impact of World War II, specifically with Germany invading France in 1940, American fashion magazines had to close their Paris locations and only a small amount of information was able to pass from occupied France (Grossman 1). Some fashion photography began to take on the "documentary" type feel of the war footage. However, these wartime fashion photographs were not made available to an American audience until after the war had ended (Grossman 1). From the conclusion of World War II, a new generation of fashion photographers emerged. The photographs of Richard Avedon and Irving Penn were typified with spontaneity and motion, yet still remained quite focused on elegance (Grossman 1).

The 1960s, with its cultural emphasis on sexuality and "free-loving," saw an increase in the sexual depiction of the photographer-subject relationship (Grossman 1). However, towards the end of the 1960s, an economic recession yielded many reductions in magazine budgets, and a new emphasis was placed on dark, violent eroticism (Grossman 1). "After the sexual revolution, photographers worked hard to shock an audience that had grown accustomed to nudity, by incorporating sexual innuendo, homosexuality, cross-dressing, voyeurism and scenarios suggesting rape and murder into their images" (Grossman 1). Additionally, the 1970s saw a distinct shift to emphasize the female body as an object of fetish and sexualization (Jobling 10).

This emphasis on shocking sexuality developed into an even more shocking and compounded depiction of sex and gender in the 1980s (Jobling 10). The 1980s saw men's and women's bodies become objects of desire (Jobling 10). Fashion photography in the 1980s became more daring and diverse (Jobling 17). This new bold and audacious style of photography gave way to an even more courageous style of fashion photography in the 1990s.

Subsequently, the 1990s saw the development of a new "heroin chic" style of fashion photography (Jobling 2). Fashion photographers explored the dirty, gritty, and grungy realities of life. "The shift to a neo-realist style of representation in 1993 by photographers like Corinne Day and Davide Sorrenti and the concomitant debate concerning their imputed celebration of heroin chic is an illuminating case in point. For such photographers the most important thing has been to portray the streetwise attitude of young people and the contempt may of them have for high fashion" (Jobling 2). In other words, the emphasis and purpose of fashion photography became concerned with life on the street, and the true feelings and attitudes of the younger generations.

Thus, this development of fashion photography over almost a century has signified fashion photography's focus on social and political commentary. Scholars and critics both note that "…fashion photography can both make a profound impact on the social and cultural scene, and have the potential to make a lasting rather than fleeting impression on the consciousness of any individual" (Jobling 3). People who buy or even just fleetingly view fashion magazines in passing are being more affected by the fashion photography on each cover and within. "If we look beneath the surface of the fashion magazine, therefore, a whole cluster of more complex and serious issues emerge concerning the objectification of sex, gender, race and class, as well as the politics of consumption and pleasure" (Jobling 3). Accordingly, the modern state of fashion photography has developed into a long-lasting, highly effective means of reaching different types of people across the social spectrum. It is in this way, in addition to being highly relatable to fine art, that fashion photography must be considered true art and not mere advertising.


Recent Developments of Fashion Photography Advertising

Currently in modern fashion photography, there are three main categories to be acknowledged: editorial, advertising and documentary (Grossman 1). Understanding these three types of fashion photography is important because it helps understand the motivation and approach each photographer takes in creating the work.

In editorial fashion photography, a magazine or other publication commissions a photographer to provide the source with the most recent updates in fashion for its readers. In advertising fashion photography, the designer or manufacturer or retailer of the apparel commissions the photographer to produce works featuring their products to help create brand identity. The designer, retailer, or manufacturer typically pays for the space in which the advertising photograph appears. Lastly, in documentary fashion photography, designers commission photographers to document their specific collections, to be used either for in-house documentary purposes or to be published as catalogs.

Another important area to focus on in studying fashion photography is the modern criticisms that have been made. Scholars note that one of the heaviest criticisms of fashion photography is that the male photographers were seen as exploiting their female subjects (Jobling 22). With the example of the photographer Newton, feminists tended to accuse him of producing work that was based on male fantasies of women's psychosexuality that were degrading and violating (Evans 87).

Furthermore, another recent development in fashion photography is a growing disparity in focus between fashion magazines. For example the mainstream fashion magazine Vogue always attempts to "harness the photographer's creative autonomy to the demands of advertisers and designers alike" (Jobling 35). In contrast, more "alternative" fashion magazines, such as The Face have been able to enjoy relative freedom "in both their choice of subject-matter and the way that they represent fashion" (Jobling 35).

Perhaps one of the more significant developments in fashion photography is the growing prevalence of fashion magazine's specifically targeted at men. One of the earliest male-focused fashion magazine's was Men Only, debuting in 1953 (Jobling 49). Although this magazine only lasted until 1968, by the mid 1980s men's fashion designers were beginning to have a stronger and more influential impact on society. These male focused designers, such as Jean Paul Gaultier Calvin Klein, and Giorgio Armani, helped spearhead new advertising campaigns in magazines directed solely to men (Jobling 49). From these initial advertising campaigns in men's wear came new and innovative fashion magazines targeted specifically at men, such as Arena, FHM and a British version of GQ (Jobling 49). However, while the aforementioned magazines were not the first male oriented fashion magazines, with the America edition of GQ published in the 1930s and Vogue Pour Hommes being published in France in 1979, these later publications post-1980s emphasized the bolder advertising campaigns. The new magazines such as Area were quite successful and considered to be more as art due to its emphasis on elegance and modernity, as well as having "high design and aesthetic values" (Jobling 50).

Also recently, fashion photography has developed into more of a means of expressing social commentary through art and less as a means of advertising, although the economic benefits of such photography remain solid. "Indeed, on many occasions fashion photography has either little or nothing to do with clothing, or else clothing itself seems to become an alibi for the representation of other contemporaneous issues and ideas" (Jobling 2). Fashion photographers have developed to use their craft, their art, to express their viewpoints and ideas.

With these ideas and developments in mind, this paper proposes that the elements of fine art that are prevalent in advertising must be recognized. "Art -- like marketing -- is an important cultural institution that transmits and reflects values, meaning and beliefs….There are many, many connections between art and consumption" (Schroeder 38). Additionally, the critic Weber has noted that Susan Sontag once wrote in a 1978 Vogue article that "it would be as easy to identify with the woman in [Richard] Avedon's 1953 photograph of Marella Agnelli as with a Brancusi statue" (Weber 1). Accordingly, fashion photography in advertising campaigns must not only be recognized for its marketing ability, but its artistic merits must be celebrated as well.

III. Case studies

There are two important case studies in the world of fashion photography that must be examined to further prove that fashion photography is a respectable art form. First, this paper examines the work of Helmut Newton, a German photographer having who contributed largely to French Vogue and Elle magazines, was quite well-known for his nude studies of women. Despite sometimes being criticized as "pornographic," Newton's nude photography added elements of depth and intimacy that helped develop fashion advertising into a true art form.

Second, this paper examines Steven Meisel, an important American photographer, who used his art of fashion photography to shape fashion trends worldwide. Meisel worked on major advertising campaigns (including Prada and Versace). Meisel's art has also appeared on every cover of Vogue Italia since 1988. His photographs have been developed into art as opposed to just fashion advertising by his…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anon. Helmut Newton. Available at: / [Accessed 13 April 2010].

Anon. The Imagist: Steven Meisel. Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2010].

Anon. Steven Meisel. Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2010].

Archaeology of Elegance: 20 Years of Fashion Photography. Ed.Marion de Beaupre. Rizzoli Publishers: 2002.
Grossman, Megan. "Fashion Photography," 2 July 2009. Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2010].
Naves, Mario. "Is Fashion Photography Art?" In Slate Magazine, 23 April 2004. Available at: / [Accessed 15 April 2010].
Reventos, Dolores Martinez. "Decoding Cosmetics and Fashion Advertisements in Contemporary Women's Magazines." Available at: [ Accessed 15 April 2010].

Cite this Document:

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