Beginning in the years leading up to the First World War, fashion photographyhas grown from a small niche market into a worldwide billion dollar business with important centres in Paris, New York and Milan. Appearing in glossy magazines around the world - such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, W, Vanity Fair, GQ, Grazia, Marie Claire, Dazed and Confused, and Sleaze Nation - as well as newspaper supplements like The Sunday Times Magazine, and digital TV and Cable networks, fashion photography has become one of the most ubiquitous and influential types of fine art photography of the 21st century. Its practitioners - lens-based artists who operate at the intersection of portraiture, still life and poster art - have included many of the greatest photographers of the age, all of whom have provided a clear and affirmative answer to the question: Is Photography Art?
For the Top 80 len-based
artists and inventors, see:
A-Z of World's Greatest Fashion Photographers
Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
Highly influential camera artist who redefined the post-World War II role of the fashion photographer. Championed by both Alexey Brodovitch and Lillian Bassman at Harper's Bazaar magazine, where he became chief photographer, he also provided photos for Life, Look and also Vogue, for whom he photographed most of the covers from 1973 until 1988. Worked on recurring fashion campaigns for Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein Jeans and Revlon.
Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
Created some of the most controversial children's fashion images ever published in the New York Times. Her contribution to contemporary art also includes some harrowing street photos.
David Bailey (b.1938)
Famous 1960s British fashion photographer for Vogue magazine in the UK. Noted in particular for his shots of (his muse) Jean Shrimpton. In 2012, work by Bailey and his contemporaries Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy were highlighted in the BBC documentary "Swinging London".
Gian Paolo Barbieri (b.1938)
Italian fashion photographer who was apprenticed to the Harper's Bazaar photographer Tom Kublin, Barbieri's first success came in 1963 when his photos were published in the Italian fashion magazine Novita, which became Italian Vogue two years later. Based in Milan, Barbieri has worked closely with fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Versace and Ferre, Pomellato and Giuseppe Zanotti, as well as famous models including Audrey Hepburn, Mirella Petteni, Jerry Hall, Monica Bellucci and Veruschka. In 1978 he was voted one of the 14 top international fashion photographers by German magazine Stern.
Lillian Bassman (1917–2012)
A fashion photographer for Junior Bazaar and Harper's Bazaar (1950-65), where she championed the careers of photographers like Robert Frank, Richard Avedon, Louis Faurer and Arnold Newman, she came under the influence of Harper's art director Alexey Brodovitch, and switched from colour to black and white.
Cecil Beaton (1904-1980)
Highly influential British fashion and portrait photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, who also became an Academy Award winner for costume and stage design.
Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969)
Influential German-born lens-based artist best known for his fashion photography which appeared in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar during the 1940s and 1950s. His other fine-art photography included a range of black and white nudes.
Guy Bourdin (1928-91)
A French fashion photographer influenced by Man Ray, the American cameraman Edward Weston, and the surrealist painters Balthus and Magritte, he became famous for his provocative, shocking or exotic imagery.
Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971)
Russian-born photographer, designer and teacher who is best-known for his 24-year tenure as art director of Harper's Bazaar (1934-1958). A key contributor to the modern art of fashion photography.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989)
Best-known for her work for Harper's Bazaar magazine, in association with fashion editor Diana Vreeland, in particular her outdoor photos shot in distant locations (eg. South America and Africa) in a style known as "environmental" fashion photography.
Patrick Demarchelier (b.1943)
French born camera artist best-known for his covers for Rolling Stone magazine, Life, Newsweek and other glossy magazines, as well as his ad-campaign photos for Dior, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and YSL.
Terence Donovan (1936-96)
Part of the 'Black Trinity' of Bailey/Donovan/Duffy, he was noted for both masculine and feminine fashion photos, setting new trends for arranging fashion models in gritty urban environments and bold poses.
Brian Duffy (1933-2010)
Photographer and film producer best known for his 60s and 70s portraiture and fashion photography. Worked for Vogue, as well as French Elle, Glamour Magazine, Esquire, The Observer, The Sunday Times and the Telegraph Magazine.
John French (1907-66)
IIntroduced a new style of fashion photography particularly suitable for newspapers involving natural light and low contrast. His assistants included David Bailey and Terence Donovan.
Horst P. Horst (1906-99)
Born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann, he was a German-American fashion photographer who is best remembered for his photographs of women and fashion. One of the most influential fashion shots of the Twentieth-Century was "The Mainbocher Corset", photographed by Horst in Vogue’s Paris studio in 1939.
George Hoyningen-Huene (1900-68)
A highly influential fashion photographer at Vogue magazine in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, he was born in Russia but spent his working life in France, England and America. Moving to New York City in 1935, he produced most of his work for Harper's Bazaar.
Frederic Eugene Ives (1856–1937)
American inventor of the halftone printing process, director of the photographic laboratory at Cornell University (1874-78), after which he moved to Philadelphia, where he became one of the founding members of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia.
Art Kane (1925-95)
Born Arthur Kanofsky, he was an American fashion and music photographer who became the art director for Seventeen teenage fashion magazine at the precociously young age of 26. After studying under Alexey Brodovitch he became a professional photographer, best known for the photograph of designer and entrepreneur John DeLorean with his DeLorean DMC-12 sports car.
William Klein (b.1928)
Camera artist and film-maker who achieved international fame as a fashion photographer for Vogue. His photos are noted in particular for the use of telephoto and wide-angle lenses, as well as natural lighting and motion blur.
Nick Knight (b.1958)
Cutting-edge, sometimes controversial fashion photographer noted for his confrontational images involving issues like racism and disability.
David LaChapelle (b.1963)
Contemporary photographer famous for his surreal, kitsch-style postmodernist art produced for the covers of fashion and entertainment magazines, as well as advertising photoshoots for fashion brands, including Diesel and Tommy Hilfiger.
Annie Leibovitz (b.1949)
Acclaimed celebrity portrait photographer also noted for her fashion and advertising photos in Vogue and Vanity Fair, such as the Autumn/Winter 2009 collection of the Lady Dior - Lady Rouge handbag campaign.
Peter Lindberg (b.1944)
Born Peter Brodbeck, Lindbergh is a German fashion photographer and filmmaker note for his mostly black-and-white photographs, who in 1978 moved to Paris where he began working for Vogue. Later he worked for Vanity Fair, Allure, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. He was responsible for the influential Vogue cover of January 1990 featuring Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz.
Roxanne Lowit (b.1965)
Self-taught American fashion and celebrity photographer who began taking pictures in the late 70s with her 110 Instamatic camera, photographing her own clothing designs at fashion shows. Since then her photographs have been published in many magazines, such as French Elle, V Magazine, Italian Vanity Fair, and Glamour, and have been exhibited at such prestigious venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
Man Ray (1890-1976)
One of the most versatile of modern artists, he took up fashion photography in Paris, working with couturiers like Chanel, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli and Lanvin, alongside camera artists such as Horst P. Horst, Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, and Erwin Blumenfeld.
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89)
Cult homoerotic photographer of the 1980s, also known for his still lifes.
Steven Meisel (b.1954)
American fashion photographer who achieved a degree of critical acclaim as a result of his work in US and Italian Vogue, as well as his shots of Madonna in her 1992 book "Sex" and for Vanity Fair. Also does regular photo-shoots for Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Calvin Klein.
Adolph de Meyer (1868–1946)
Initially hired by Conde Nast, he was the first official fashion photographer for the American magazine Vogue, and his early photos of models, actresses, and aristocrats triggered the first use of photographs in fashion editorials.
Sarah Moon (b.1941)
Born Marielle Hadengue, she turned from modelling to fashion photography in 1970, adopting a new name and achieving fame as the first "impressionist" in the world of fashion. Worked closely with Biba clothing store owner Barbara Hulanicki, as well as brands like Cacharel, Chanel, Dior, Comme des Garcons and Vogue.
Martin Munkacsi (1896-1963)
Hungarian photographer who pioneered the first use of movement in fashion photography, as well as the first shots of models in active poses at the beach. Moved to New York, where he signed on with fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. Produced one of the first fashion articles illustrated with nude photos. [Note: For other Hungarian camera artists, see: Andre Kertesz (1894-1985), Brassai (1899-1984) and Robert Capa (1913-54)]
Helmut Newton (1920-2004)
An important figure in contemporary art, Newton is best known for his pioneering style of black and white fashion photography - notably his overtly sexual imagery - his camera shots were regular fixtures on the covers of Vogue magazine.
Norman Parkinson (1913-90)
Leading British camera artist who pioneered the use of outdoor fashion photography in contrast to conventional studio photo-shoots. The lead photographer for British Vogue magazine, he also worked for Harper's Bazaar and Bystander magazines.
Irving Penn (1917–2009)
American photographer known for his fashion photography and portraiture. Along with camera artists like Richard Avedon, Penn revolutionized American fashion photography after the Second World War. A photographer with American Vogue, he is also noted for his ad-campaigns for international brands including Issey Miyake, and Clinique.
Denis Piel (b.1944)
Award winning fashion photographer and filmmaker best-known for his 1980s fashion imagery. His photographs appeared in Elle magazine, Marie Claire, Votre Beaute and French Vogue as well as the New York Times Magazine, American Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Self. He became renowned for his sensual and erotic camera art typically expressed in an intimate narrative style. In 1987 he won the Leica Medal of Excellence for Commercial Photography.
Bob Richardson (1928-2005)
Originally a New York graphic designer who didn't start photography until he was 35, he became a top freelance fashion photography grossing up to $15,000 for a single image. After succumbing to illness, he fought back with the help of Richard Avedon and Steven Meisel, to become a teacher at the International Center for Photography and the School of Visual Arts. Later worked for GQ magazine and Italian Vogue.
Herb Ritts (1952-2002)
Active during the period 1970-1990 as pret-a-porter fashion became a real mass-appeal industry, Ritts became known for his innovative photoshoots for Calvin Klein, Versace and Armani collections, which introduced a new perspective to the concept of masculinity.
Francesco Scavullo (1921-2004)
Initially assistant to Horst P. Horst, this American fashion photographer was best-known for his cover photographs for Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and Rolling Stone magazine as well as his celebrity portraits.
Mario Sorrenti (b.1971)
Italian fashion photographer renowned for his female nudes. Best known for his shots of Kate Moss in the publicity campaign for Calvin Klein's "Obsession". Has worked for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and for several of the world's top designer labels including Prada, Benetton, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome and Paco Rabanne.
Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Challenged by Lucien Vogel, publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazette du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art through the use of photography, Steichen produced a series of shots of ballgowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret, which are now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photographs. Like Man Ray, Steichen is now seen as one of the most important contributors to the history of photography in the 20th century.
Bert Stern (1929-2013)
American fashion photographer best known for "The Last Sitting, a collection of over 2,000 photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken for Vogue during a single three-day period, some six weeks before her death. Also photographed Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Drew Barrymore.
Mario Testino (b.1954)
Peruvian fashion photographer renowned for his advertising campaigns for Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, but best known for his 1997 Vanity Fair cover photos of the late Diana Princess of Wales. Has also photographed Madonna for Versace.
Oliviero Toscani (b.1942)
One of the leading postmodernist artists in the Italian fashion industry, Toscani is best-known for his controversial ad-campaigns for Italian clothing brand Benetton (1982-2000). After doing photo-shoots for Elle, Vogue, L'Uomo Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, he joined the Benetton Group as art director. One of his most contoversial campaigns features a photo (by Therese Frare) of a patient dying of AIDS in front of grieving relatives. Other Benetton promotional photos organized by Toscani include references to racism, war, religion and capital punishment. In 2005 he produced yet more controversial photographs, this time for the men's clothing brand 'Ra-Re'.
Deborah Turbeville (1937-2013)
American fashion photographer who introduced a distinctive 'noir' element to fashion shots in the early 1970s. Regarded - along with Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin - as a key influence in helping to transform fashion photography into something more avant-garde and edgy. Worked on campaigns for Nike, Ralph Lauren Bloomingdale's and Macy's, among many others.
Ellen von Unwerth (b.1954)
Fashion photographer who came to fame after working with Claudia Schiffer. Published in most of the leading magazines like Vogue, L'Uomo Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview, The Face, Arena, Twill and I-D, she has also done promotional photography for numerous music stars including Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson and Rihanna.
Yasuhiro Wakabayashi (HIRO) (b.1930)
Shanghai-born camera artist known professionally as Hiro, he was an assistant to Richard Avedon and a protege of Alexey Brodovitch. A staff photographer at Harper's Bazaar, he was elected Photographer of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1969. The trade journal American Photographer devoted a complete edition to his camera art in 1982.
Bruce Weber (b.1946)
American fashion photographer and filmmaker, he is best-known for his ad-campaigns for Pirelli, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Revlon, and Gianni Versace, as well as his fashion photos for Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Elle, Life, Interview, and Rolling Stone magazines.
Exhibitions of fashion photos are regularly shown in a number of the best galleries of contemporary art across America.