Peter Lindbergh: A Photography Icon

Over two months on, the fashion industry is still reeling from Peter Lindbergh’s death. The photographer who hit fame in the 1980s with his work at US Vogue can only be described as an icon. His work spanned decades, never aging due to their honesty and strong emotional force behind them.

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One of his most well known photographs was the British Vogue January 1990 cover, showcasing the group who were soon to be known as the 90s Supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford). This photo highlighted the start of a new era where models would become celebrities in their own right. The models are dressed in simple clothes, yet there is a power behind the photographs. Lindbergh’s photography elevates their modelling talents to showcase the powerful industry dominating force these women are about to unleash.

Lindbergh was dedicated to showing women’s personalities through his photos, he wanted to show his models as more than just ‘clothes hangers’. Thus, Lindbergh could be credited as one of the propellors of the supermodel movement, the public saw these women as ‘real’ people whose personalities and lives were of interest.

I personally have always admired Lindbergh’s work for this very feature, he has an ability to make the people he photographs the stand out feature, despite its seeming simplicity with its black and white colouring. Journalist Suzy Menkes said that Lindbergh’s photos allow you to look into the person’s “unvarnished soul”. When you look at Lindbergh’s photos, you almost feel you know and understand the subjects.

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Lindbergh had an obsession with reality and the natural. Current British Vogue Editor, Edward Enninful, described Lindbergh as seeing beauty in “real people” and in “real situations”. His use of black and white photography showcased just that, in an interview in 2008 he explained that it helped to create a sense of reality, rather than just an ordinary glossy magazine advert. Many areas of the fashion industry can be perceived as an unachievable fantasy and a form of escapism into an extravagant world where people dress themselves to be ideals. Lindbergh stripped that down and showed people’s true authenticity.

Known for his pursuit of ‘natural’ beauty, he preferred to photograph his subjects with little to no make-up and was a huge critic of airbrushing. Lindbergh was a breath of fresh air, pushing for women to celebrate their true self instead of an idolised norm.

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