The Editorial Style
My chosen style of photography is a blend of fine art and the creative fashion editorial style. I did quite a lot of editorial fashion shoots with talented models from across Texas when I worked as a photographer in Austin’s weird, wild, fashion scene.
Editorial fashion used to refer to a kind of photo assignment: the photos for an ‘editorial’ article in a high-level fashion magazine such as Vogue. An editorial shoot would produce typically about eight visually striking images evoking high fashion, and connected by a single creative theme. While called an ‘editorial’, these spreads were all about the images, and other than the names of the designers of the clothing worn, typically contained little in the way of actual text.
These shoots have a distinctive style: filled with fashion models, of course, highly refined NY and Paris-style beauty and glamour makeup, high fashion, high production values, all orchestrated and captured by the world’s top photographers, who often explored wild, creative, and shocking themes.
For much of the history of fashion photography, the world of editorial shooting was restricted to a tiny number of well-connected photographers living in NYC, Paris, Milan, or Tokyo: in spite of literally millions of attractive young women itching to model, without the financial backing of a magazine and the ability to afford agency models, it was hard for the typical photographer to find one.
In the late 2000s, that suddenly changed as the internet connected aspiring models with talented photographers, at first through forums and Craigslist, but then through specialized sites catering to their mutual need.
Overnight, half-a-century of pent-up demand on the part of both photographers and aspiring models was released. Amazing photographers around the world collaborated with amazing models to make amazing images, and the term ‘editorial photography’ transformed from a type of assignment, into a recognized photographic style.
In modern usage, editorial now refers more commonly to a picture’s style than to how or where it’s published. 'Editorial' shoots today may be published online, or not be published at all, or sold in galleries, and may not even involve any clothes, but are editorial because they evoke the visual feel of high fashion editorials: they are striking and visually sophisticated, exhibiting high taste in every way they can achieve (even when, as is often the case, that high taste takes a lascivious dive into the tawdry, rebellious, and provocative). They’re glamorous in a way glamour photography has always wanted to be, but could never achieve.
‘Alice In Wonderland’ with Natalia Vodianova
by Annie Leibovitz, for Vogue (2003)
The Creative Editorial Style
Throughout the history of fashion editorials there has been a notable trend of high-level photographers engaging in rampantly creative themes, telling visual stories out of faerie tales, fantasy, cinema, history, or life - from any source capable of providing inspiration - and twisting those themes into the image of high fashion.
Emma Watson (top left), ‘Fraulein’ (top right), ‘Revenge’ (bottom row)
by Ellen Von Unwurth, for various publications