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Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items. Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Elle. Over time, fashion photography has developed its own aesthetic in which the clothes and fashions are enhanced by the presence of exotic locations or accessories.
Fashion photography has been in existence since the earliest days of photography. In 1800, Adolphe Braun published a book containing 288 photographs of Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione, a Tuscan noblewoman at the court of Napoleon III. The photos depict her in her official court garb, making her the first fashion model.
In the first decade of the 20th century, advances in halftone printing allowed fashion photographs to be featured in magazines. Fashion photography made its first appearance in French magazines such as La mode practique. In 1909, Condé Nast took over Vogue magazine and also contributed to the beginnings of fashion photography. In 1911, photographer Edward Steichen was "dared" by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazette du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. Steichen then took photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret. These photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration. According to Jesse Alexander, This is "...now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photography shoot. That is, photographing the garments in such a way as to convey a sense of their physical quality as well as their formal appearance, as opposed to simply illustrating the object."
Vogue was followed by its rival, Harper's Bazaar, and the two companies were leaders in the field of fashion photography throughout the 1920s and 1930s. House photographers such as Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton transformed the genre into an outstanding art form.
In the mid-1930s as World War II approached, the focus shifted to the United States, where Vogue and Harper's continued their old rivalry. In 1936, Martin Munkacsi made the first photographs of models in sporty poses at the beach. Under the artistic direction of Alexey Brodovitch, Harper's Bazaar quickly introduced this new style into its magazine.
House photographers such as Irving Penn, Martin Munkacsi, Richard Avedon, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe would shape the look of fashion photography for the following decades. Richard Avedon revolutionized fashion photography — and redefined the role of the fashion photographer — in the post-World War II era with his imaginative images of the modern woman.
After the deaths of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Francesco Scavullo and Herb Ritts, some of today's most famous fashion photographers are Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz.
Still Life Fashion is a type of fashion photography devoted to the photographing of clothing without models. Still Life Fashion has become an important part of all fashion retailers' marketing and e-commerce strategies, with studios devoted to the production of this particular photography brand making up a considerable proportion of UK and Worldwide photography businesses.
There are many categories of Still Life Fashion, the most common being "Flats" where the garment is simply shot from above, and "Invisible Mannequins" where the garment is shot on a mannequin, then the back of the neck is inserted using photoshop, and artificial shadows added. Both are good for different types of items, depending on the style and the brand. There are many studios that provide this kind of shot.