Richard Avedon: The Icon

Richard Avedon

“The photographs have a reality for me that the people don’t. It’s through the photographs that I know them. Maybe it’s in the nature of being a photographer.” -Richard Avedon

Going through our Icons blog section, of course many of the photos we used for posts were shot by Richard Avedon (May 15,1923 – October 1, 2004). A visual genius, he is known for his black & white photographs – particularly fashion and portraiture.

Avedon’s most iconic shot: Dovima with elephants in evening dress by Dior. Cirque d’Hiver, Paris,  1955

Avedon was born to a Russian Jewish family in New York City. Never finishing college, he started photographing for the Merchant Marines. After that, he did advertising photography for a department store, until he was discovered by Harper’s Bazaar’s art director Alexey Brodovitch. In 1945, Avedon set up his own studio and began freelancing for such magazines as Vogue and Life. It didn’t take long until he became the chief photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. In 1966, he started working for Vogue, where Avedon photographed most of the covers until 1988, when Anna Wintour became editor in chief.

China Machado in a Suit by Ben Zuckerman, 1958 and Carmen Dell’Orefice for Harper’s Bazaar, 1957

Avedon brought motion and emotion into fashion photography, and according to The New York Times, “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.” On top of fashion photography, Avedon made a social statement by photographing patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement, protesters of the Vietnam War and the Berlin Wall. Richard Avedon received numerous awards for his photography, and will always continue to inspire the world of fashion and beyond. Here are some of our favorite photos by Avedon for you – enjoy!

Elise Daniels in hat by Paulette, Paris, 1948

Carmen Dell’Orefice for Harper’s Bazaar, 1957

Sophia Loren, 1970

Fashion Photo by Richard Avedon