Fashion Photographer Cecil Beaton

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T here have been many great photographers throughout history who have left their mark on the industry. Cecil Beaton is an inspiring fashion photographer from the 1930s. He was born in 1904 in Hampstead, England, he moved to London and continued to live there until his passing in 1980.

This British photographer launched his career as a society photographer in 1926 (A Gallery for Fine Photography, 2001). His first camera was a Kodak 3A which was a very popular model in its time. Beaton used this camera to teach himself the basics of photography often using his family members as subjects. Ignoring his dislike of further education Beaton studied history, art and architecture at ST John’s College, Cambridge ( Reference, 2010). In time he came to be known for his portraits of celebrities, royalty and high society (A Gallery for Fine Photography, 2001). His most popular images were his fashion portraits depicting elegance, glamour and style (National Portrait Gallery, 2009).

Beaton took his inspiration from the most successful magazine photographers of the 1910’s and 1920’s including E.O. Hoppe, Edward Steichen and Baron de Meyer (Victoria & Albert Museum, 2010). Vogue published its first portrait by Beaton in 1928 (Harrison, 1987). It was his exhibition in London that won him this contract that later led much of his work to appear in the magazine. He went on to work with Vogue for over fifty years with both the American and British editions (Patrick, 2009).

During this time he photographed members of high society such as Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn as well as members of the royal family including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. His work portrayed elegance and grace, which he achieved by creat...

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...ry of a moment in history. Beaton was there to document the lives of the high society members in his time. His inspiring photographs and intriguing persona were the keys to his success. The link between flattery and portraiture influenced Beaton early on in his career. This influence is still clearly evident in the works of many contemporary photographers today. Beaton had an art for sculpting his subjects bodies, in a way that deemed quite effective. His creative styling of the body allowed his photographs to capture a different depth of atmosphere.

Beaton’s most memorable pieces were taken throughout the 1930s. Although many of his personal opinions were far from elegant this was not evident within his work. He is known as one of the great photographers of high society. And was, as I believe responsible for recording the elegance, glamour and style of his time.
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