Fashion and Beauty Photography Essay

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1.Fashion and Beauty is important to study, as it is an important part of everyday life. This is because it is always present, even though its not necessarily something people consciously think about such as getting dressed in the morning and doing their hair. Not only is a part of everyday life but also it is a crucial part of society and culture, showing religious beliefs and peoples background and where they come from. Fashion not only shows these, but reflects where the person is going or what they are doing. For example a smart suit and brief case could indicate someone is going to work and a sparkly, short dress would show that someone is off to a party. These clothing decisions often come as second nature to people, knowing how to appropriately dress for different circumstances. This could be a subconscious decision ad not necessarily one made based on fashion trends. Fashion and beauty is also a form of expression and art, showing how people feel and what they are interested in, which links to the idea of stereotypes and how people are perceived and the impression they leave on people without even doing or saying anything. A good example is teenagers wearing hoodies. Automatically people tend to steer clear and think they are up to no good, and if someone is wearing a lot of makeup, people will criticize. Fashion and beauty is in some cases the only way people can express themselves. Such as a teenager will go through various different fashion and beauty looks to rebel, become their own person and find their style. People who have to wear a uniform or suit change their hair and makeup to express their style and personality. The form of expression is most likely the most important reason to study the idea of fashion and beauty, as a world without them would be dull and bland. If everyone had the same hair style and outfit then things would look boring and people would be unhappy with out them as they show personality and visual look into someones mind. Fashion photography has been around since the late 18th Century/early 19th Century, and was introduced into society by fashion magazines that are still highly relevant today and renown for their fashion photography and photographers that are associated with them, Harpers Bazar (1867), and Vogue (1892). Although photography was invented in the 1830s, fashion magazines were at first using hand coloured illustrations to show fashion as the first practiced use of photography, daguerreotype could not be used for mass production, and was therefore no good for magazines. It was not until halftone printing techniques became more advanced that it was possible for photography to be used to show fashion and mass produced for magazines. During this time period, Paris was the centre for fashion and the use of photography to document it, and this was the case until the end of the 1930s. Paris produced a significant number of fashion photographers, as well as attracting them. One of the most significant fashion photographers who is dubbed as the first fashion photographer was Adolphe De Mayer.2. The work of De Mayer was for the fashion and photography industries, revolutionary as he developed the idea of fashion photography into an art form stemmed from the idea of portraiture. He also had a unique style to his work, with the majority of it focusing around the use of a soft focus lens and a backlight, which helped to create his distinctive style. During the 1930s, the centre of fashion moved from Paris, to New York. This meant the photographers followed. One of the key photographers here now is Edward Steichen. Although he was around previous to this change, he became more prominent during the late 1920s. One of the biggest achievements and advances for fashion photography and Vogue was when he took the first colour cover photograph in 1932 at New Yorks infamous Radio City. Fashion photography was still relatively new, and therefore was continually explored to see different ideas and techniques. Although these techniques were explored, the photographs were still flamboyantly set up with props and high fashion in an almost theatrical way. This changed however, when Hungarian sports photographer, Martin Munkacsi went over to American on assignment in 1933. The editor of Harpers Bazar, Carmel Snow, approached him to do a fashion shoot. This was a different approach to fashion, coming from a sports perspective that completely contrasted the typical and popular way in which fashion photography was seen and shot. He used a fast shutter speed in order to capture model Lucille Brokaw running down the beach. This not only captured movement in the image from her flowing dress, but also showed models in a new, more realistic way instead of them looking as false and posed as previous. This had opened new doors in terms of fashion photography, expanding the way the shoots could be approached and how fashion could be shown. After the Second World War, fashion grew again after its downfall during the war, and thus came about new and iconic photographic styles and photographers. The 50s and 60s in themself were highly groundbreaking culturally with new ideas being explored and more being shown through the media opening up the general public to more than they were used to. This was all given to a world already shook up by the events of the war. This vast change included the emergence of icons in both music and film such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. All of this of course impacted fashion photography dramatically, giving it more ideas, subjects and icons to work with as well as this decade producing some now highly influential photographers. One of those photographers being David Bailey. Born in England he became inspired by the photography works of Henri Cartier Bresson. In 3. 1959 he got a job assisting John French, photographer for the Daily Mirror. This led him onto a highly successful decade in the fashion photography industry including working for Vogue. His approach to his work was fairly simple, with him taking a photograph of what was there showing his ideas in a straightforward yet creative manner. On his own work he said; I think they had a directness that other photographers pictures didnt have. And they werent about me. They were about the people in the pictures. He is also responsible for showing the most iconic model of the 60s Twiggy. His work has and continues to influence photographers, with the sharp, crisp lines and strong form shown in him images as well as the strong fashion and beauty styles. During the 70s, society and culture continued to change, this time taking a more political approach fighting against the government and conformity, with rebels emerging fighting for peace as well as sex drugs and rock and roll being a popular theme. There was now even more ground for fashion photography to cover, due to the new cultural divisions that were shown mainly through fashion; for example punks, glam rock and men in general becoming more interested in expressing themselves through fashion. During this time, fashion photography was liberated as a reflection of a more open minded audience, with photographers such as Helmut Newton looked at women in a more sexualized way, looking at the naked body more in fashion photography which was ground breaking and expanded the creative walls of fashion photography. One highly iconic photographer that emerged from the 70s was Annie Leibovitz. First featured in Rolling Stone magazine with the John Lennon cover image she rapidly grew in popularity during this time creating her own styles, making her work recognizable. She created a story and brought her images to life expanding the subject beyond the person she was photographing. As well as working with Rolling Stone she worked with Vogue which includes 40 covers to date. 4. The 80s continued to be a success within fashion photography, with the photographer gaining even more power in how the ideas were shown and how society perceived them. Something new that occurred during this era was the idea of advertising campaigns for fashion shot in a similar way to editorial images. This allowed photography to become more creative and work closer with fashion houses rather than just magazines, expanding the mediums reach. One prominent photographer of this decade was Patrick Demarchelier. His work stood out from others due to the classier, more classic approach to photography and the presentation of the model and the ideas he was showing. Initially he went to New York in 1972 from France to work with Glamour, but he worked up to Vogue in 1974. He was recognized not only for his work but his attitude with models feeling relaxed and comfortable. His work was not only recognized in the fashion world, but by royalty. In 1989 Princess Diana asked him to take a photograph of her and Princes William and Harry. By the 90s technology had advanced tremendously since its early, basic start in the late 1800s when shutter speed was extremely slow and images could originally not be massproduced. Now not only cameras had evolved to the early digital cameras as well as advanced film cameras, but their distribution and editing had by now dramatically changed. One of the major advances to impact upon photography specifically fashion was Photoshop. This newfound power and control over the image that extended beyond the shoot allowed models to be retouched and perfected. This is seen in some cases as controversial as it makes a negative impact on young girls and women in general to obtain a perfect and sometimes impossible body image. Other than Photoshop which has kept on developing since its first release in 1988, distribution has also changed a lot since Harpers Bazaar and Vogues releases. Now, other than the vast fashion magazines that show all types of fashion, such as ID and Dazed and Confused, there is the Internet. Not only can you view online versions of magazines, but its far more accessible and free compared to magazines, being able to use the internet whenever through the use of a phone. This is a positive development, allowing more people the chance to see and publish work, and it is instant. Whereas a magazine has to be printed then sent off to shops, once something is posted everyone can instantly look. 5. Two current photographers in the fashion industry are Rankin and Miles Aldridge. Both of these artists have their own distinct, bold and instantly recognizable styles. Rankin, taking fun and exciting images of subjects ranging from models to actors/actresses, and musicians to politicians. His work shows fun, exciting and different poses and presentation, with the resulting image taking on a more conceptual feel rather than looking at the fashion and beauty ideas face on with no incorporation of personal creativity. I have looked at his work a lot, and it has inspired me with more eccentric, fun shoot ideas. Something else that makes his work stand out is his use of colour and contrast as is very strong, bold and eye catching which helps draw attention to the work. These two images below from Rankin are both very different in the subject, but similar in how they are presented showing a link and consistent style with his work. These images not only give examples of his work but show how diverse his ability is and how he leaves his personal mark on the image that makes it recognizable as his own. The first thing that you notice about this is the Queen and how she is being shown in a different way to how she is generally perceived to be and represented. In this, she looks happier and more relaxed than in other photographs where she looks more serious. The very bright colours and minimal shadow adds a bold effect which is typical of Rankins work. The composition in this image is also tight, not only showing evidence of rule of thirds but also, the cross centre of the flag is directly behind the centre of the queens head.This image shows a strong contrast between the white background and face to the pink. Not only does this use of tone and colour create contrast, but effectively also puts the emphasis on the eyes, bye having the colour around them which draws in the viewers attention. There is a perfect, doll like quality to the model in this image, with porcelain skin and no shadow which matches some of his other work, thus creating something recognizable about his work. 6. Miles Aldridge focuses on creating highly conceptual images that represent his ideas through a story like setting. This approach is shown through bold, vivid highly saturated images mainly that have an 80s housewife feel to them. Although he mainly creates these type of images, his portfolio is much broader, including portraits and advertising campaigns. For the majority of his work, there is a consistent use of colour to emphasis the subject. Another consistency in his work is the way his models look, flawless like mannequins, which adds to the dramatic feel of the work. These images below both give good examples of Miles Aldridges work, sharing the same editing in terms of colour, sharpness, light and the distant looking female subjects. What is most obvious and eye catching in this image is the distant, and sad. This paired with the kitchen setting and clothing gives the image a sad housewife style shoot. The colours used in this image are typical of his work, being very saturated and bright with minimal shadow which creates a surreal feel. The composition is also good, as it is quite tight, including just the model and the needed setting/props. This image shows a similar use of colour to the above image keeping the style surreal. The colours and accessories used in this give it a 80s cinema feel. The model looks like she is looking at something in shock or wonder similar to the expression in the above image. The smoke in the background gives the image a very dramatic, cinematic effect which adds to the cinema feel of the image. Another thing about this image is how frozen and stiff the model looks, which creates a mannequin effect similar to the above image. 7. I feel that the photographs I have taken throughout this project show a wide variety of ideas relating to the topic of Fashion and Beauty. Although there is no general theme linking all of my images, I am happy with what I have done as I did not want to be stuck to looking into once concentratedidea throughout my project, and instead explore the visual world of fashion and beauty more broadly and from different approaches. Although my project is quite varied, most shoots do link into each other or gain ideas from previous shoots. Where fashion and beauty are usually approached at face value, just showing the clothing, makeup etc. I decided for the majority to create more of a story and make them seem fun and exciting. To do this I did gain inspiration from how Rankin and Miles Aldridge present their ideas as well as from other artists depending on my ideas. Seeing as air brushing plays quite a big part in fashion and beauty photography especially editorials and covers for high end glossy magazines I have experimented with this during the editing on most shoots either perfecting skin or adding makeup and reshaping. This has shown me a lot about how much and how drastically images can be changed in between shooting and publishing. This image to the left is one of the images from my project. I wanted to show the idea of natural, yet dark beauty and showing creatively instead of just straight up showing it with just the model in the composition. Adding the snakes creates a rougher, more wild and daring feel. The position and relationship between the model and snakes looks comfortable and easy, and due to how snakes are feared by some, this puts her across as fearless, in control and powerful which is what I wanted to show. Although I wanted to put this across, I did not want it to come across in a harsh, overly dominating way. This is why there is fairly strong elements of innocence. The most obvious being the fact she looks naked. This gives the impression that she is exposed. Then there is the white background which also makes her and the colours in the image stand out well. These elements make the darker ones seem softer which I think makes the image more appealing and keeps the focus on the beauty aspects. This image to the right is from a shoot I done showing dressy womens fashion. The ideas behind this were more editorial based and influenced by more classic photographers such as Richard Avedon. What I like about this image is how relaxed the image is, showing the model in quite an intimate moment, which is enhanced by the fact she is not facing the camera. The focus of this 8. portrait is the idea of beauty, as the fashion aspect is not as dominant in the image. I made it black and white to give it a more vintage, classy and dramatic feel. The black and white also I think adds a bit more of a personal touch to the image too. The high contrast and lighting creates strong form and makes her face the obvious focus as it is lit up and brighter than the rest of the image. In terms of the future of fashion and beauty photography, I think it will advance a lot technologically in a few areas. First of all with how photographs can be taken. Nearly everyone has a smart phone which comes with a fairly good camera and access to editing and sharing sites such as Instagram. This not only makes it easy for people to take photographs on the go unexpectedly, but also allows anyone to take and share photos. Although this applies to all areas of photography, it does apply quite strongly to street fashion photography. An example of this is from Vogue photographer Michael ONeal (image on the right). Another advance that has already started is using computerized models instead of real models. This could cut the time and cost, but can be seen as quite controversial in turning away the image of real women. In conclusion, I think that fashion and beauty photography has and constantly will be an important part of society as it shows people different ideas and styles which is a major part of peoples lives even if it subconsciously. I also think that how it is technically and creatively approached will continue changing. For example, cameras will advance and society will change meaning what can be photographed and seen as acceptable will change. 9. Bibliography