The thing with the fashion world is that it’s such a visual and visceral industry. No matter how talented a designer can be at sewing or stitching fabrics together, the end result always has to “look” good. The technique and attention to detail might be flawless, but if it doesn’t jump out to the consumer from a magazine page or catalog, it‘s really all for naught. For this reason, photographers who shoot fashion campaigns and high-end fashion magazine editorials are treasured commodities in fashion. It’s true – a lot of these brands are selling a fantasy, but it’s one that translates into billions of dollars when all is said and done. Here is a list of the top fashion photographers who charge huge sums of money for creating the alluring and stylish images that keep the fashion industry thriving from season to season.
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When it comes to the most respected fashion photographers in the world, Mario Testino is certainly at the top of the heap. He has shot numerous magazine covers for high-profile glossies like Vogue and Vanity Fair, and when it comes to the top models in the fashion world, it’s fair to say that he has probably shot them all – Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen. He has also captured countless other celebrities too – Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears, to name a few. In addition to that, he has also shot alluring fashion campaigns for global fashion brands like Gucci, Burberry, Versace, and Calvin Klein. Testoni also has another impressive feather in his cap. He is the photographer of choice whenever the Royal family of England chooses to be profiled in a luxury publication. He shot Princess Diana for Vanity Fair magazine in 1997, and he has photographed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince Harry and Kate Middleton. Born in Peru, the 59-yr-old Testino actually studied economics in college before he found his true calling.
Born in Greensburg Pennsylvania, Bruce Weber is another well-respected photographer with all kinds of amazing accolades to his name. Weber has shot for the top-tier of fashion publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and Interview magazines. He has also been the man behind the camera for fashion campaigns for brands like Calvin Klein, Revlon, Versace and Ralph Lauren. However what Bruce Weber is mostly known for is ultra-sexy, and largely homo-erotic catalogs he created for Ohio-based contemporary brand, Abercrombie and Fitch during the 90’s. These A&F catalogs were so racy that at some malls across America, kids had to show ID before being able to purchase then. Even well into his sixties, Bruce Weber continues to score top profile jobs. He recently shot Hollywood star Jake Gyllenhaal for the latest cover of NYC-based luxury magazine, Man of the World.
NYC photographer Terry Richardson is one of those names in fashion that engenders a wide gamut of responses. Some people really like him and respect his talent and others truly hate him and label him as an unabashed creep. Regardless of these opinions, his success as a photographer in the fashion industry can’t be denied. He has shot campaigns for brands like Tom Ford, Diesel, YSL etc and created editorials for GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. His work is mostly characterized by overtly sexual scenes and nudity that most people think goes too far. He has a strong online presence via his Terry Richardson Diary website, and he often invites celebrities over (Kate Moss, Kate Upton, Jonah Hill, Jared Leto) to take candid, whimsical portraits. Whatever you think about him, Richardson has made millions in the industry and continues to remain relevant in the genre.
German photographer Juergen Teller is a highly respected photographer in the fashion industry. In an industry as fickle as fashion, what stands about Juergen is the longstanding relationships he has been able to develop with certain major designers. For example, since 1998, he has been the photographer of choice for all Marc Jacobs fashion campaigns – a truly remarkable feat. Some of the celebrities he shot wearing Marc Jacobs clothes include Winona Rider, Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainright and more. He has also had similar long-running working relationships with other marquee designers – including Helmut Lang and Vivienne Westwood. Teller’s pictures have a certain knack for capturing a stark reality that really pops off the page. It’s this sixth sense of his that keeps his clients constantly coming back.
Nick Knight is perhaps the one photographer in this piece that has art credentials that almost exceed his fashion world accomplishments. Knight exists in the realm of the avant-garde and his images are often the product of cutting edge visual technology that result in images that spark and wow the imagination. He has worked with a slew of high-profile brands including Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander, Levi Strauss, Christian Dior, Audi and even Mercedes Benz. He is also really skilled in shooting video as well. To date he has shot music videos for artistically expressive artists like Bjork and Lady Gaga. Most recently Nick Knight was also the director behind the video for “Bound 2” by Kanye West that featured an apparently topless Kim Kardashian on a motorcycle with the Chicago rapper. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the spoof of this video by Seth Rogen and James Franco, stop what you’re doing and youtube it right now!).
Another very important photographer in the fashion industry is the American photographer Steven Meisel. Although he has also shot a plethora of fashion campaigns for brands like Versace, Valentino, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, Meisel really came to prominence by shooting a series of covers for both American and Italian Vogue – he reportedly has a great relationship with the magazine’s editors, Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani. Meisel is also regarded as being influential in really boosting the careers of several big name models: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Amber Valetta, Lara Stone and Keren Elson. He has also shot album covers for pop music stars like Madonna and Mariah Carey.
Mario Sorrenti is a NYC based photographer and director with a lot of influence in the both the fashion and music industry. He was born in 1971 in Naples, but his family relocated to NYC when he was 10-yrs-old. Sorrenti has shot several top-tier models for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
He was also the talented lensman behind the sexy, iconic images of Kate Moss for the Calvin Klein Obsession perfume ads. In the music realm, he has shot album covers for Shakira, soul singer Maxwell , and in 2013, he shot talented Canadian rapper Drake for a covershoot in GQ magazine.
Inez & Vinoodh
Ask any romantic couple who work together how they do it, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s a really tricky balance to pull off. Somehow the same feelings that make a personal relationship work don’t quite work on a professional level. With that said, Dutch photography couple Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have been working together since 1986, and are one of the most requested photography teams in the fashion industry.
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The artistic couple has photographed editorials and cover shoots for magazines like Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Uomo Vogue, Purple Fashion, Interview and V Magazine. They are especially talented in creating stellar advertising campaigns for brands like Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Chloe, Balenciaga and Yojhi Yamomoto, Chanel, Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton. The Dutch couple originally met at Amsterdam Academy of Fashion Design and they are currently based in NYC.
Mert & Marcus
The second photography duo featured in this piece is Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Both of them were born in 1971 and their work is known for a glossy, futuristic and very sleek look. They came from two different angles of the fashion industry; Mert was a photo modeler and Marcus was an assistant photographer. However, when they joined forces, the images they created were truly fantastic. To date, they have created striking visuals for publications like LOVE Magazine, Vogue, Interview, Arena and more. As far as their fashion label clients for ad campaigns, some of those include Missoni, Miu Miu, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Givenchy and Lancome.
There’s no other way to say it – Annie Leibovitz is a true photography icon. The 64-yr-old Connecticut native has created some of the most beautiful portraits that have ever been captured on the printed page. In the 1970s, she did a lot of work for Rolling Stone magazine including the timeless nude embrace shot of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the magazine’s cover. In more recent times, she has done some stunning work for Vanity Fair including the pregnant cover shot of Demi Moore, unforgettable shots of Lady Gaga for both Vogue and Vanity fair, and she also photographed President Barack Obama and the first family at the White House. But perhaps you may have heard her name in the news lately because of this: The April 2014 issue of Vogue magazine featuring Kanye West and Kim Kardashian just dropped (with pictures of their daughter inside) – and guess who shot it? And the answer is … The One & Only Annie Leibovitz.