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This quarter, we’re zooming in on fashion photography, a genre which might naturally call to mind the flawless imagery of high fashion or creative storytelling of editorial shoots. Our selection of chapters, articles, images, business cases and video allow you to take a deeper dive into the world of fashion photography and also portraiture, to reveal a rich history, diverse aesthetic ambitions and the complex interplay between images and their consumers.

The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women

Book cover of The African Lookbook
By Catherine E. McKinley

Most of us grew up with images of African women that were purely anthropological--bright displays of exotica where the deeper personhood seemed tucked away. Or they were chronicles of war and poverty--“poverty porn.” But now, curator Catherine E. McKinley draws on her extensive collection of historical and contemporary photos to present a visual history spanning a hundred-year arc (1870–1970) of what is among the earliest photography on the continent. These images tell a different story of African women: how deeply cosmopolitan and modern they are in their style; how they were able to reclaim the tools of the colonial oppression that threatened their selfhood and livelihoods.

Citation: McKinley, Catherine. “Clothes for a New Nation: Independence and Post-Independence, 1957–1970s.” The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women, 1st ed., New York, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021, pp. 153–61.

Fashion Photography, Art and Advertising

Take a look at the history of fashion photography as a way of documenting or selling clothing or accessories. We start from the earliest fashion photographs made in the 1850-60s for Parisian fashion houses, move through the 20th century with a snapshot of Australian fashion publishing, and into the present day. The content explores whether fashion photography’s commerciality compromises its artistic integrity; and how the ‘hyperreality’ of many modern fashion images treads a fine line between persuasion and alienation of the consumer.

Photograph of Model at Lincoln Memorial
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Image Credit: "Photograph of Model at Lincoln Memorial" Photograph by Tony Tinsell. In: Nancy Hall-Duncan. "Fashion Photography." The Berg Companion to Fashion.


Consider the intersections of fashion, media and gender in portrait painting and photography from the Renaissance era through to Bill Cunningham’s street photography in the 1970s.

A close up photograph of a model at a Todd Oldham show in 1995
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