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In today’s culture, photography is a blurry subject – what’s considered art and what’s considered simply a selfie? How do you make it big in the world of fashion photography when everyone is constantly uploading their own photos of their trending outfits? For an inside look on how to get one of the coolest jobs out there, read on about how some of the most famous modern fashion photographers got their gigs.
Annie Leibovitz, who started out as a staff photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, is now the only woman to have had an exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery and is considered one of America’s best portrait photographers. Her intimate portraits and use of bold colors are known to have defined the Rolling Stone look – Leibovitz shot the famous photo of naked John Lennon cuddled up against Yoko Ono and the last photograph of Lennon taken five hours before his murder. After her time at Rolling Stone, the inspirational woman worked for Vogue and Vanity Fair doing fashion photography with the same signature style.
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Bill Cunningham was known as the most famous and successful street fashion photographer of all time, shooting for The New York Times. Bill started out by dropping out of Harvard University to design women’s hats, write articles about women’s fashion and take candid photographs of fashion as he bicycled around the streets of New York.
Roxanne Lowit worked as a textile designer until she started taking photos of her subjects to discover the instant gratification of photography. She began taking pictures of her own elegant designs appearing at New York fashion shows and ended up taking art photos for fashion designers in Paris.
Deborah Turbeville began as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar and eventually started shooting her own photographs in the 1970s. She is known to have changed the game of fashion photography from well-lit studio shoots to dark and edgy avant-garde art.
Ellen von Unwerth worked as a fashion model for ten years. Tired of being told to be still, the inspirational woman moved to the other side of the camera and took charge. With her knowledge of modeling, she was able to produce beautifully sensual photos that capture movement and personality.
Steven Meisel drew models from fashion magazines as a child and eventually went on to study fashion illustration in college. He didn’t ever think he could become a photographer until a booker from Elite Model Management allowed him to take photos of the model. From there his art career took off. Now he works for several fashion magazines, has shot album covers for Madonna and Mariah Carey, and has done several advertising campaigns for Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and more.
Patrick Demarchelier has shot for nearly every major fashion magazine but was never formally taught how to photograph; he taught himself by taking picture after picture and learning from his mistakes. His advice: “Being a photographer is like being an athlete. You must practice every day.”
From Ellen von Unwerth’s shots depicting action and character to Annie Leibovitz’s intimate photographs of celebrities, these photographers have all offered their own artistic interpretations of the world of fashion.