FPI Workshop – Developing a Quality Fashion Photograph

One of the key objectives for my research this term is to dedicate time to developing my promotional imaging practise.  On one hand this is in preparation for my FMP, where a key output of my overall brand creation will involve a promotional imaging strategy and the cultivation of a distinct visual identity.  However, it also aligns with my longer term ambitions to engage with the creative side of the fashion industry, within the art department of a magazine or the visual promotion department of a brand.  To structure FPI students engagement with promotional photography and imaging as part of our course, Emma has booked a studio for the 26th of february, where we each have a half an hour slot to shoot a fashion photograph. In the preceding two weeks we are expected to brainstorm and develop a  concept underpinning the outcome we will eventually produce.

The Workshop – Learnings from Rankin…

Many of the FPI students including myself, were new to fashion photography when starting this course. Whilst I developed my experience to an extent through the EP/C Laura Lee brief which involved the creation of a promotional imaging strategy, my knowledge is still fairly limited. Therefore the documentary Emma showed us on the prolific contemporary fashion photographer Rankin was really valuable in highlighting the dynamics of fashion photography and how it has changed over the last century (ie. the transition from analogue to digital).  However, the theme of the documentary was not about Rankin’s personal identity as a fashion photographer. Rather ‘Seven Photographs that changed Fashion’ focused on recreating legendary fashion photographs in a modern context; a focus proved incredibly significant through highlighting that mimicking the work of other artists is not the path to success.  As Emma has always said the genius of fashion photography lies in it’s ability to capture a moment which can never be repeated. This is something Walker inadvertently made clear mimicking Richard Avendon’s elephant shot  of 1979, with Erin O’Connor.  Just gazing at the original shot immediately makes it clear how successful this image is – for example, despite being bookended by two elephants the model looks completely relaxed and engaged with her ‘props’. This has resulted in a charismatic, captivating effect, which would never have been captured outside of that specific moment in time.  On the other hand Rankins shot of O’Connor is static and awkward – rather than integrating with the elephants it looks like O’Connor has been simply superimposed in the foreground. Ultimately, regardless of the image itself, there is nothing special about it simply because it has been done before

Rankin’s Style (the briefest of artist research)…

Rankin vs. Richard Avendon – Elephants (1979)…

Creating my Fashion Photograph…

In regards to my own practise this appears to be lesson 101. Mimicking the work of another is guaranteed failure as with all photography, the exact circumstances resulting in the moment captured cannot be recreated.  Even if they could be, the image will never be aspirational as it presents something that people have already engaged with . For something to be truly aspirational it must lie outside the realms of our personal experience – otherwise how could we ‘aspire’ to it.  Only through taking multiple strands of inspiration and weaving them to create a synthesised concept, can an exciting, innovative and aspirational moment be constructed to be captured on film.  Iconic fashion photography is alchemy – it is all about that split second moment that can never be reclaimed.


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