Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baron Adolph de Meyer: First Fashion Photographer

Baron Adolph de Meyer

In 1909, the weekly high society magazine, Vogue was purchased by an American publisher Conde Nast. He wanted to keep the magazine geared toward the rich and famous, but also more accessible for the mainstream. That's when Conde Nast hired a highly accomplished European photographer, Baron Adolph de Meyer who is often called the founder of fashion photography. Through his wife, Olga Caracciolo, de Meyer met and photographed numerous society members, models, and dancers in their own high fashion clothing and accessories. He was a pictorialist who worked in photogravure, a process developed in the 1830's, which merges photography and printmaking. After much success with Vogue and Vanity Fair, in 1921 de Meyer began working with the competitor, Harper's Bazaar. He worked there for 13 years before a new editor came in and redefined the direction of Harper's Bazaar, leaving de Meyer without a job. He died in 1949, virtually forgotten as a photograper. Although his final days were spent out of work, de Meyer will forever be remembered as a true visionary with a delicate idiom who allowed his subjects to portray their true personalities in front of the lens.

Baron Adoph de Meyer: La Belle Epoque

It's always beautiful to see the innovators of an industry. I really enjoyed researching de Meyer and learning the origins of fashion photography. De Meyer paved the way for a fashion obsessed culture before it was accessible to anyone but the rich. His prints are extraordinary and also very rare as he destroyed most of them before the war. I think my favorite is that of the African-American beauty Josephine Baker, an American singer, dancer, and actress. Another interesting aspect of de Meyers photography are his still life prints. I didn't post any of them, but they are definitely worthy of a look.

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