Fashion is full of colours, textures, shapes and patterns – in fact, they are what makes fashion. In this sense, fashion is eye-catching, vibrant and alive. However, when browsing through some of my favourite coffee break magazines, it came to my attention how many fashion photos are illustrated by classic black and white photography. Despite neglecting the qualities colour brings to fashion, black and white fashion photography is very much in vogue.

The existence of fashion photography has been around since the early 1800s. It is a genre of photography devoted to displaying fashion items and accessories in a way that both show cases and glamorises them. Marco Tenaglia is a fashion photographer renowned for his use of black and white imagery. His philosophy is that “a great photographer shouldn’t need to retouch his photographs“. His black and white photos speak for themselves through the clothes, the models, the locations and the camera angles. What his photos lack in colour, they more than make up for in the strong shadows and lighting, which equally captures the mood or story behind the image. So why is black and white photography still so popular in fashion?

So far 2012 has seen Vogue Paris, Vogue Turkey, i-D and Marie Claire all use black and white photos for the front covers of their glossy magazines. As some of the top names in the fashion magazine industry, they have showcased a classic and sophisticated front cover which demonstrates how fashion does not always need colour to make a statement, and certainly in their cases, to grab the attention of their readers. In fact, I’ve always felt more inclined to pick up a magazine with a black and white colour scheme. There is something about these bold front covers which gives the magazine a real vintage and nostalgic feel. This is what leads me to believe that black and white fashion photography is still very much alive. Despite advancements in technology which allow for the entire colour spectrum to be captured, black and white fashion photography gives fashion an authentic yet abstract value; it is suggestive whilst leaving room for imagination.

Images from:
Marco Tenaglia fashion photography
Vogue Paris

Marni Banks


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1 Response
  1. Marni – I agree: Black + white photos have mystery – like old Hollywood stars. Matisse said ‘Colour is witchcraft’, but perhaps he hadn’t been colour saturated yet!

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