We Call It Flamour Photography

Michigan Avenue, Magnificent Mile, Chicago

The Golden Hour fell behind the skyscraper buildings of Chicago on Michigan Avenue.

There are many photography genres, especially when it comes to photographing women, where the most popular photography genres are glamour, fashion and beauty. Though I’m sure someone is probably wondering why I’ve left out nude photography, well quite honestly, nude or implied nudes of women are turning up everywhere today, from fashion photography to selfies. Besides, beauty exists naturally in nude photos, so I’ll save that topic for a future article and we’ll focus on photography genres that include some form of clothing.

Blame it on new technology over the years, but beauty, fashion, glamour and even nude photography are all converging together, at least in my world. When Heather and I start out shooting, we don’t focus on specific photography genres, we focus on the results. Sometimes the result is fashion, sometimes glamour, sometimes beauty, and sometimes fine art nudes, it just doesn’t really matter, what matters is that “we” create something great together and do our best to avoid mediocre results.

Photography genres are so blended today that over the years I’ve actually called what Heather and I do as flamour photography, based on a word derived from fashion and glamour photography combined. Call it a mixture of the photography genres. Notice I left out the nude and beauty, well let’s just say flamour sounds more sexy and romantic than nuflambear or some other crazy concoctions of the letters found in fashion, beauty, glamour and nude. Not to mention, when flamour photography is done effectively, it tells a story while maintaining the beauty of the subject in a fashionable and glamorous manner. I’ll go even further by stating that the better flamour photographs are more fine art photography than anything else.

However, before we can claim we specialize in any of the photography genres of photographing women, we have to first understand the differences between the three most common ones. When you pick apart the photography genres, the differences do stand out, it’s when they are combined that you wind up with something like flamour.

So let’s look at glamour photography first. Glamour photography dates back to the early 1890’s with the start of the cinema industry. It took on more notoriety 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 continued it’s popularity 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, working for Warner Brothers after leaving MGM, and in the 1950s he moved to New York and transitioned into advertising and fashion photography. Now there is a lot more to Hurrell’s biography, but I just wanted to illustrate that even the greats, jump from one genre to another because they are so closely related—though Hurrell’s glamour photography had a definitive and iconic style that made him popular over other glamour photographers.

Model Photography

It’s all about the light!

Glamour photography continued to involve 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, though the fashion photography roots date back to the early 1830’s when daguerreotype became suitable for mass printing. Beauty photography just fell into the mix of it all, after all, a photographer shooting fashion or glamour merely had to make a few adjustments, move in tight, and, bam, you’ve got beauty photography.

While beauty photography is easily confused with glamour photography, there are some distinct differences. Beauty photography is often about the beauty of the face or beauty products for the face and skin, whereas glamour photography is about the entire subject, not just their face. Depending where you live in America, many beauty photographers photograph the entire body, sometimes even in boudoir or other intimate settings, but refuse any association with the word “glamour” in their photography. This mentality is changing fast as glamour photography is becoming stronger everyday thanks to celebrities on magazine covers and the popularity of the Internet.

In fact, Manhattan photographers, due to the heavy concentration of beauty and fashion photography in one area, often shy away from the word glamour. Whereas in California, the glamour photographers there love to associate it with Hollywood and often call it Hollywood glamour—in a nutshell, if you’re photographing a person and the image is about that person where it “glamorizes” them, it’s glamour photography. You could even say that some selfies are a raw form of glamour photography. Weird isn’t it? It’s all about glamorizing the person in front of the camera.

If you’re trying to sell a product, then it changes because normally the person accentuating the product is considered more of a prop than person. Often I’ll say that the difference between fashion and glamour photography is that in fashion photography the model is a coat hanger accentuating the clothes while in glamour photography the clothes accentuate the subject.

Sometimes you can sum up the photography genres this way, if a model is selling clothes or similar products, it’s fashion photography and some will even call it advertising photography. If the model is selling jewelry, facial products, skin and hair care products, then it’s probably beauty photography. If the photo is about the individual and the products just add to the image, then it’s glamour photography. If the model is selling any other product, 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. Now you know why Heather and I just shoot and don’t focus on any specific photography genres, we focus on the result. Basically, some separation of the photography genres are not clearly defined, and other separation factors of the genres are defined geographically by society plus the use of the photograph, along with the industry related markets themselves. Call it what you want, we just call it photography, or our fine art!

The book cover of Taming The Trouser Snake…. is a great example. It’s not glamour, fashion, beauty or nude photography, it’s a photo illustration, but to us, it’s just an illustrated photograph telling a story. Now the back cover, it’s more of a glamour photo of Heather. With that I close and as always remind you not to forget the men and women that proudly serve to protect our country. God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.

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