Haute Historian: Iconic Images

March 25, 2013 • Haute Historian, Magazine


We’re human, and there is very little we can change about that. It’s hard enough to remember what we had for dinner two nights ago, but even so, our minds are very tricky organs. There are some things, like images, that are forever etched into our memories. These iconic images have shaped the way that we view specific events or mark certain periods of time. If it weren’t for the photographers behind those lenses and flashing bulbs, we might see things in a different manner.

Without even knowing it, we left it up to a brave few to dictate how to see the world. They’ve given us their interpretation of fashion, beauty and culture and we’ve done nothing but soak it all up. Legends like Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz have contributed immensely to the world of fashion through the messages that they’ve conveyed via their photography.

Richard Avedon, after dropping out of high school joined the Merchant Marine’s photographic section. When he returned in 1944, he found a job as a department store photographer. Two years later, an art director at Harper’s Bazaar noticed him, and the world of photography was never the same. Icons in their own right like, Brigitte Bardot, Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe were all subjects in front of Avedon’s lens.

He did more than merely snapping photos of famous faces, he had an artistic style about him that was refreshing. His portraits were sophisticated, and at the same time they were intimate. His ability to make his subjects feel comfortable in front of his lens aided his work. His famously minimalistic style is a common thread throughout his portraits. Good lighting and a white backdrop were key ingredients for Avedon to get his formula just right.

Another notable fashion photographer who changed the way we view history is none other than Annie Leibovitz. In 1967, Leibovitz started studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and it’s there where her love affair with photography began. Just three years later, she was offered a job as a staff photographer at the then-start-up magazine, Rolling Stone. It took Leibovitz only two years to move up the ranks and be promoted to chief photographer.

Through her successful career, Leibovitz has shared with us some of the most iconic photos ever taken. Her legendary Rolling Stone cover of a naked John Lennon wrapped around Yoko Ono was taken mere hours before Lennon was shot and killed. Others like Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore and even Miley Cyrus have been lucky enough to pose in front of Leibovitz’s lens. Leibovitz is considered one of the best American portrait photographs, and by looking at her extensive portfolio it’s almost impossible to refute that.

Avedon and Leibovitz are only two legends on a list of talented photographers. However, they are two that definitely got it right. And in return for their hard work, we’ve got lasting images of people, places and things that we might otherwise have forgotten.

– Jamie Wilson

Sources: Biography.com, pbs.org

Photos: Avedon: The Richard Avedon Foundation, and The Kennedys Portrait of A Family By Richard Avedon; Leibovitz: from Top Ten Most Iconic Annie Leibovitz Photos

Image Layout: Second City Style

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