When we consider the driving forces shaping the fashion industry, setting the mood, and starting new styles, we usually think of designers and tastemakers. But just about every fashion image we consume—from editorial spreads to the advertisements that saturate our day to day—are captured by fashion photographers projecting a curated aesthetic that informs things like style, mood, and the fashion industry at large.
Last century, fashion photographer legends Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, and Irving Penn reigned supreme. They paved the way for a fresh lineup of faces behind the lens at the latter half of the century—many still working today—and some new talent that has joined the fashion force since the turn of the century. So who are the masterminds behind the most iconic fashion images spread across billboards, digital screens, and the pages of magazines? Head below to see the fashion photographers who are leading the industry today.
Ellen von Unwerth is best known for her fashion images celebrating erotic femininity. In 1989 she rose to fame after photographing Claudia Schiffer and went on to win first prize at the International Festival of Fashion Photography in 1991. The German photographer has since been a regular in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and I-D, she has shot many album covers and music videos, and she has directed commercials for brands from Clinique to Equinox.
Mert Alaş and Marcus Piggott make up one of the most in-demand photography teams today. Their client list boasts some of the biggest fashion labels like Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Miu Miu, and they have an even more impressive lineup of celebrity talent, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Gisele Bünchen, Linda Evangelista, and Gigi Hadid.
In 2003, at just 25 years old, he was one of the youngest artists to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He works regularly with artists and fashion clients and has photographed the beauty and fragrance campaigns for Calvin Klein, Dior, Hermès, and Stella McCartney.
This Dutch photography duo, working together since 1986, have been fashion industry mainstays for over 25 years. Their résumé includes Vogue covers from around the world, as well as many other prestigious fashion titles.
Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz is one of America's greatest portrait photographers. Her work spans far beyond fashion, capturing prominent political figures and pop culture icons. She photographed John Lennon the day he was assassinated.
Mario Testino is one of the most well-known fashion photographers, regularly featured in magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair and documenting the top A-list celebrities, musicians, artists, and models.
A fine-art and fashion photographer, Juergen Teller is celebrated for his raw, overexposed photography style and refusal to separate between art and commercial.
You'll recognize Bruce Weber's work as the iconic black-and-white imagery that accompanied Abercrombie & Fitch before the company's rebranding. He's also worked with fashion houses such as Gianni Versace and Calvin Klein and has been featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Elle.
This model-turned-photographer is the eye behind the famous Calvin Klein Obsession ads (featuring his former girlfriend Kate Moss).
David LaChapelle, known for his pop culture surrealism, wears many hats—producing fashion photography content, fine-art content, directing music videos and films.
Steven Klein is best known for his extensive work with Madonna—from the exhibition installation named X-STaTIC PRO=CeSS to a coffee table book and videos for multiple tours.
Terry Richardson is famous for bright, provocative photographs that give a raw snapshot feel to various fashion editorials and campaigns.
This British photographer is known for his dark, moody, and surreal imagery punctuated by shocks of vibrant reds.
Since the 1970s this French fashion photographer has shot the covers for nearly every major fashion magazine. In 2007, the French Minister of Culture honored Demarchelier as an Officer in l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Literature).
Next up, these are the most influential street style photographers of the past decade.