Fashion is so much more than clothing, it is an expression and a cultural statement about how to live, what we find inspirational, and what we desire. Without photography, fashion design would not have the presence it has in our culture. The relationship between designer and photographer is most valuable, and a good match is critical to reaching a larger audience. Photographers hold their own views on what is fashionable, views that revolve around tone, light, form and composition - in addition to fashion and trend. On account of this, many great designers look for a shooter not only with technical ability, but also with an idiosyncratic style. Alas in a more commercial era of lower budgets, the deadpan white walled lookbook, Instagram, and cameras that think for us, creative ideas with spirited viewpoints on beauty are often lost in translation. So we find ourselves asking, what is the independent creative testimony behind contemporary fashion photography?
'Notions of Beauty', attests to the Cascadia regions extraordinary image makers dedicated to fashion - those who have developed a regular practice exploring allurement to make their own testimonies.
We are proud to present a look through their eyes at the culture of making beauty while living within a new phase of *'hypermodernity'; aka a society characterized by absolute flexibility and constant flux. *(Gilles Lipovetsky).
- Christine Taylor
Fashion photography holds a dominant position in visual culture as the perfecting gaze, the hyperreal medium par excellence. Defining the moment in terms of an idealized fashion image proves an elusive quest, one that continually moves out of focus and onto the next iteration of style. This fast changing visual dynamic is the language of fashion photography and describes a compelling dialog between the beautiful subject and the perfect image.
Fashion photography does more than simply record prevailing concepts of beauty. We have entered into the age of the spectacle where image supplants object, and takes the leading role in driving culture forward. As Guy Debord predicted in, 'The Society of the Spectacle' (1967), the fashion image itself has become more real than the material world of fashion. Our voracious consumption of fashion images clearly outpaces our relationship with actual clothing. Even fast fashion cannot keep up with our unquenchable desire for the next new thing. Fashion photography not only fulfills this demand, it creates a reciprocal dance between the medium and imagination where the currency of images matters more than the things they represent. This phenomenon of mediatization inspires fashion photography to question visual ideals in radical ways unbound by physical reality.
Anti-fashion images and pornography compete as alternate visions, helping to define the parameters of cultural values regarding beauty. For example, any comparison of North and South American fashion photo spreads indicates the arbitrary nature of acceptable standards in the depiction of idealized beauty. Leading fashion imagery requires a keen awareness of the edges of social tolerance in any cultural milieu.
Paradoxically, these obvious cultural differences involving the acceptance of certain fashion images coexist with globalization and the ubiquity of fashion photography seen on the Web. These vast and diverse cultural systems of images reveal fashion photography’s dominance as a nonverbal language of human interaction. The world of fashion changes as a result of these image systems, increasingly unrelated to a physical counterpart. This phenomenon describes the basis of Debord’s society of the spectacle. Although Debord held a critical view of this development, it is fascinating to consider his theory that fragmented views of reality have arranged themselves into a pseudo-world where they can only be passively contemplated, yet have immense social and cultural power. This hyperreal realm mirrors visual imagination where images reflect and refract off of each other resulting in new ways of seeing and interpreting fashion.
- Annin Barrett