One prominent example of this is photographer Jeurgen Teller for Marc Jacobs. Teller’s name is displayed at the bottom of the advertisements and his name has become almost synonymous with the Marc Jacob’s brand. Regardless of the season, Marc Jacobs sticks to a similar visual style and is consistent not only with his visual campaign but the way the campaign is imaged, with the display of the photographer’s name as an integral piece of the construct of the visual imagery.
However, more often than not the photographer who photographed the advertising campaign is not brought into recognition: their name and identity is not a part of the visual or conceptual marketing strategy. There are also times when a fine art photographer is recruited to lens a specific ad campaign as a way of defining a certain visual style for the brand.
Bottega Veneta is one example of a fashion label that regularly recruits fine art photographers to shoot ad campaigns as a means of capitalizing on the exclusiveness of fine art photography and providing another element of interest in their visual style. Tomas Maier, creative director of the fashion company Bottega Veneta, is inspired by fine art photographers and integrates them and their unique visual styles into the brand by collaborating with them to shoot advertising campaigns for the company. He calls this “the art of collaboration” and selects a different fine art photographer whose personal visual and photographic style is in sync with the feel and message he wants to convey with his clothing line for a particular season.
For Maier, collaborating with fine art photographers is a way to indulge in a creative medium that he enjoys as well as creating the opportunity to do something different and to stand out in the fashion world. For an article for W Magazine, art and fashion critic Sarah Haight wrote, “[Maier] shrewdly began trading on his commercial success for more personal projects, namely, hiring fine-art photographers, many whose work he collects, to shoot the company’s campaigns. Among those Maier has engaged are Sam Taylor-Wood, Nan Goldin, Lord Snowdon and Larry Sultan… In an industry that has typically relied on a small cadre of fashion photographers to handle multimillion-dollar advertising projects, the use of, say, Tina Barney (spring 2007) and Philip-Lorca diCorcia (fall 2005) was considered risky, not to mention provocative.”
Similarly, Phillip-Lorca diCorcia photographed his ad campaign in an urban street scene with carefully constructed lines and reflections that too, are visual characteristics that are reflected in his personal work.
Goldin and diCorcia were artists who were able to work in their own style for a commercial purpose. The identity of the artist, based on consistent visual characteristics could be easily hinted at because of the stylization and personalization of the images they photographed.
Normally, a photographer for an advertising campaign wouldn’t attract so much scrutiny to their adherence to personal style if it weren’t for the way in which Bottega Veneta went about advertising their campaign. If a brand wants to stress the individuality and personal style of a certain photographer, then they should make that come across as a priority through the images. The implications of being hired for a personal artistic style and not communicating them properly or effectively, make us question the intent of hiring someone for their personal style. Many factors are at play during an advertising campaign. Even with a brand such as Bottega Veneta that prides itself on granting artists creative freedom, the message of artistic and stylistic retention and preservation is at play.
If a unique visual style is not apparent in an ad campaign even to someone who is familiar with fine art photographers then what is the point of having to “look them up” as Maier suggests? If a brand goes to such lengths to stress the importance of individual style then it should be apparent somewhere in the images. If an artistic voice isn’t properly communicated through visual imagery then perhaps the creative team should have stepped in and advocated for more of a personal voice from the photographer.