When it comes to photography genres, especially in the photography of women, there are many to include my favorite three, fashion, beauty, and glamour photography and thanks to the Internet and social media, the genres seem to converge at times.
In my photography, my focus initially isn’t a specific genre as I’m after results that tell a story about something or someone — to hook the viewer into the enjoyment of the photo’s message. Sometimes the results are fashion, maybe glamour, or even beauty, and on occasion a fine art nude. What matters in the end, that my subject and I create something great together and do our best to avoid mediocre results.
Photography genres blend so much today that over the years it’s like as photographers, many of us now capture flamour photos. Flamour, based on fashion and glamour photography combined with a photojournalistic flair. Call it a mixture of photography genres, or a new genre in itself, it doesn’t really matter what name you give it, what matters is the ability to feel, create, and see it.
With flamour photography you tell a story and maintain the beauty of the subject in a fashionable and glamorous manner. The better flamour photographs harmonize into fine art too, but before we can claim we understand this genre of photography, we have to first understand the differences between the other three genres of fashion, beauty and glamour photography.
Glamour photography dates back to the early 1890’s with the start of the cinema industry. Its notoriety increased in the mid-1920’s with the invention of television thanks to photographers like Ruth Harriet Louis who worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and its popularity continued thanks to those like George Hurrell.
Hurrell, dubbed the “Grand Seigneur of the Hollywood Portrait,” shot Hollywood style glamour photography from the 1920s up to the 1950s, mainly for Warner Brothers after leaving MGM. In the 1950s, he moved to New York and transitioned into advertising and fashion photography.
There’s more to Hurrell’s biography, but the point illustrates that even the greats jump from one genre to another because the genres of fashion, beauty and glamour photography tend to reveal one another on set — though Hurrell’s glamour photography had a definitive and iconic style that made him popular over other glamour photographers.
Glamour photography continued to evolve with the introduction of Playboy magazine in 1953 up to the impact on the genre from publications such as Maxim and retailers like Victoria Secret. In the midst of it all, glamour was often confused with fashion photography as fashion photography often uses glamorous bodies to sell products.
Fashion and Beauty Photography
Fashion photography dates back to the early 1830’s when daguerreotype became suitable for mass printing. Beauty photography just fell into the mix of it all — a photographer of fashion or glamour photography merely makes a few adjustments, move in tight, and bam, you’ve got beauty photography with the right model and make-up.
Often confused with glamour photography, in beauty photography there are some distinct differences. Beauty photography focuses often on the beauty of the face or body with beauty products for the face and skin, whereas glamour photography widens its focus on the entire subject.
Depending where you live, many beauty photographers refuse any association with the word “glamour” in their photography as glamour photography has evolved to things like more butt cheeks and side-boobs, or what many call “cheesecake glamour”. With social media channels like Instagram and others, some celebrities influence this tidal wave of online glamour photography that others see as sexy selfies that seek affirmation.
It’s not uncommon for Manhattan fashion and beauty photographers to shy away from the word glamour. Whereas in California, the glamour photographers associate the genre of photography with Hollywood and some call it Hollywood glamour — in a nutshell, if the photograph of a person “glamorizes” them, it’s glamour photography. You could say some selfies are a raw form of glamour photography. It’s all about glamorizing the person in front of the camera.
If you’re trying to sell a product, then the genre of photography changes because normally the person accentuating the product becomes a prop more than a person. In the end, the main difference between fashion and glamour photography lies on the fact that in fashion photography, the model represents a coat hanger accentuating the clothes while in glamour photography, the clothes accentuate the subject or model.
Summing Up Fashion, Beauty and Glamour Photography
You can sum up the photography genres of fashion, beauty and glamour this way: If a model sells clothes or similar products in her photos, it’s fashion photography and perhaps advertising photography too. If the model sells jewelry, facial products, skin and hair care products with her photos, then it’s probably beauty photography.
If the photo is about an individual and the products and clothes just add to the image, then it’s glamour photography. If the model sells any other product in her photos, then it’s advertising or commercial photography.
Confused about the photography genres, well many photographers are and it’s evident when they claim a photo is fashion when in fact it’s glamour, or vice-a-versa. Perhaps that helps explain why I focus on the results more than any specific photography genre. There are many times where separation of the photography genres lack definition, then there are times where the geography of society defines the separation of the genres. Call it what you want, ultimately, it’s still photography.