As Tom Ford told The Guardian in 2010, “Part of fashion is newness. It’s got to be a new combination of elements that’s shocking-stunning-beautiful all at the same time.” Fashion Photography Next author Magdalene Keaney echoes that message, writing that her subject ‘is certainly precipitated by the expectation of the new’, and in this book she’s highlighted the freshest take on the fashion world through the camera lens.
Already on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream, each of the 35 photographers listed is making waves individually in heavy-weight style magazines like Pop and AnOther, but together their work has an even greater impact. The result is a stream of innovative editorials: shoots with exciting concepts, designed to shock and entertain the viewer as well as to promote products. It’s more than a coffee table read, thanks to fascinating mini biographies that turn the spotlight onto the photographers themselves and justify their place in the line-up of ‘next big thing’ contenders.
Hidden amongst the obvious arts degree holders there’s an eclectic mix of backgrounds here; from the Oxford-educated language graduate Charlie Engman who was discovered on Flickr by Dazed Digital, to self-taught Timur Celikdag (below left) who honed his craft as a photographer’s assistant in Hamburg and London. What isn’t quite defined by the book’s title is that only a handful of featured photographers – Jamie Hawkesworth, Saga Sig and Harley Weir – are in the early stages of their career, not long out of university, but even they have created high-profile campaigns for the likes of Miu Miu, Nike and Céline, respectively. Ultimately, Fashion Photography Next makes some pretty sure bets as to who’ll pick up the mantle of Bruce Weber (aged 68), David Bailey (aged 76) and Mario Testino (aged 60) if – and when – they choose to retire.
These up-and-coming photographers are certainly aware of the current leading lights and it’s not hard to spot potential influences. If you’re a fan of Paolo Roversi’s work (he’s frequently seen on the pages of Vogue Italia, W Magazine and China’s Modern Weekly), you’ll be pleased to see Julia Hetta producing similarly softened and sensitive prints, almost resembling oil paintings, with shadows hugging the delicate, ethereal models. Hetta’s use of long exposure times and low light creates an undeniable atmosphere. Meanwhile, Tung Walsh‘s work echoes that of his employer, Juergen Teller, as well as the controversial Terry Richardson, making high contrast confrontational images often flooded with flash.
Whilst everyone listed in Fashion Photography Next has the opportunity to digitally enhance and manipulate their work, many have returned to analogue techniques – perhaps as a reaction to the hyper-Photoshopped world we now live in. Axel Hoedt (below) uses film cameras and Polaroid in his studio processes, whereas Laetitia Negre prefers combining Polaroids with negatives, and it’s claimed Ruvan Wijesooriya creates ‘approximately 85%’ of his images on film, largely shunning digital technology. Putting analogue images in campaigns and editorials, hopefully without the need to airbrush on top, will be a welcome change for anyone who admires the artistry of the fashion industry rather than the body pressures that dominate it.
Whether you’re a sucker for creative adverts or you can’t resist clever editorial shoots, you’ll appreciate Kearney’s guide to modern fashion photography and its continual reinvention.
Published by Thames & Hudson, Magdalene Keaney ‘s Fashion Photography Next is available to buy online here.