In the world of fashion there is a small yet consistent collection of photographers who get the majority of work for major publications and brands. In fact, many of them seem to have quite the monopoly on the fashion world. Legends like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn continued to work prolifically up until the time they passed away, and that seems to be what is so great about being behind the camera instead of in front of it. Top photographers are given the chance to work for years in an industry where most figures are in one day and out the next.
But how do we differentiate one top photographer from another? We'll show you what to look for from visual style, what publications they regularly appear in, as well as recent ongoing collaborations with brands and models of some of the top working fashion photographers of today. Click through to get started!
Photographer: Craig McDean Style: Hyperrealism may be a term used for painting, but McDean's photographs feel like they've been meticulously created using a brush, every stroke and every color planned ahead of time where the subject becomes a pristine sculpture. He typically sticks to studio shoots. Where: Interview, Vogue US, Vogue Italia, W 2011 Campaigns: ck Calvin Klein, Dior, Estee Lauder, Gap, Oscar de la Renta, St. John, Tommy Hilfiger Who: Arizona Muse, Lara Stone, Karlie Kloss
Photographer: David Sims Style: Studio shots, grey backgrounds, everything seems a little cloudy, a little grainy. There's a relaxed, though chilly elegance. Even when the sets are decked out and the models are lively, Sims' photographs still seem to take on a steady and controlled minimalism. Where: Vogue Paris, Vogue US 2011 Campaigns: Alexander McQueen, Chloe, Esprit, Jil Sander Navy, Miu Miu, Valentino, Zara, Who: Raquel Zimmermann, Arizona Muse, Malgosia Bela, Stella Tennant
Photographers: Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin Style: Incisive celebrity portraits, warped glamour and movement. When they're not photographing celebs-of-the-moment, Inez and Vinoodh have their own batch of favorite models, ones they use time and time again and who become closely associated with the photographer duo. They're very selective, in fact, did you know the pair has a policy not to shoot any models under the age of 18? Where: Vogue Paris, Vogue Japan, V, W 2011 Campaigns: Balmain, DKNY, Donna Karan, Juicy Couture, Lanvin Men, Isabel Marant, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent Who: Lady Gaga, Anja Rubik, Raquel Zimmermann, Daria Webowy, Lara Stone, Izabel Goulart
Photographer: Mario Testino Style: Joie de vivre. A Testino photograph always seems like the place to be, whether through some hedonistic fun (his Ford-era Gucci campaigns) or because of the 24 hours party people (early to mid 2000s Burberry campaigns, D&G). It's the perfect place for the faces of Hollywood, which is why he's so popular in the pages of Vogue US. Where: Allure, GQ, V, Vogue US, Vogue UK 2011 Campaigns: Burberry, D&G, Lancome, Stefanel, Michael Kors, Versace Who: Celebrities. Pretty much all of them.
Photographers: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott Style: Drama, glamour, saturated colors and lots photoshop-induced perfection. Among the most prolific campaign adverstisers, Mert and Marcus are ubiquitous in the world of high fashion photography. The pair just had their first Vogue US cover, perhaps a sign of things to come? Where: Interview, LOVE, Vogue Paris, W 2011 Campaigns: Calvin Klein, DSquared, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Gucci, Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford Who: Joan Smalls, Lara Stone, Mariacarla Boscono
Photographer: Patrick Demarchelier Style: Studio portraiture--models and celebs, alike--may be his claim to fame (although The Devil Wears Prada line "Get me Demarchelier" is a close conteder), but it's the focus on the fashion that makes Demarchelier so important. Pared down shots of a model against a neutral backdrop force one's attention on the clothing, which is probably why Demarchelier is chosen so often to photograph haute couture. Where: Allure, Teen Vogue, Vogue Russia, Vogue US 2011 Campaigns: Ann Taylor, Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Harry Winston, H&M, Piaget Who: Current industry movers-and-shakers, Karlie Kloss
Photographer: Steven Klein Style: Dark, detached, clinical, and with an occasionally violent tableaux. You're not going to catch many smiling faces on the glossy pages of a Steven Klein photograph. The subject bends to the twisted rules of the Klein universe, instead of the other way around, and that goes especially for his celebrity subjects. Being glamorous in the classical sense is a punishable offense. Where: Interview, Vogue US, Vogue Italia, V Man, Vogue Hommes Japan, W 2011 Campaigns: Akris, Calvin Klein, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Armani, Roberto Cavalli Who: Amber Valletta, Madonna, Karlie Kloss, Lara Stone
Photographer: Steven Meisel Style: The closest thing Meisel has to a consistent aesthetic is his precision, attention to detail and favoritism when it comes to models. Colleagues have long testified to Meisel's interest and passion for just about everything including movies, music, history, politics, all of which he engages with as inspiration while inviting controversy like an old friend. Meisel adapts to the world around him and fashion adapts to Meisel. Where: Vogue Italia, Vogue US, W 2011 Campaigns: Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Prada Who: Fei Fei Sun, Raquel Zimmermann, Freja Beha Erichsen, Arizona Muse
Photographer: Terry Richardson Style: Stark, kitschy, hypersexual, a bright flash with a white background. Both lauded and criticized for his racy images, Richardson also knows how to tone things down for more mainstream publications like Harper's Bazaar while maintaining his signature style. Where: Purple, Harper's Bazaar US, i-D, Candy, V Man 2011 Campaigns: Aldo, Blumarine, H&M, Mango, Siseley, YSL Beauty, Who: Linsdey Wixson, Celebrities, Hipsters, Celebrity hipsters