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Design & Style

The Power of an Image: Photographers and Models

Anna Wintour

Lesson time 15:51 min

Photography is critical for communicating your message and your brand. Anna looks at a few of the greatest photographers and models of our time, and she offers tips for aspiring creative leaders on the power of the image.

Anna Wintour
Teaches Creativity and Leadership
Anna Wintour gives unprecedented access to her world, teaching you how to lead with vision and creativity—and without apology.


[MUSIC PLAYING] ANNA WINTOUR (VOICEOVER): As a creative leader, the visual medium is so powerful. And photographs are often the most powerful tool to express your creativity, to help define your title, and reflect a moment in time. One looks to the great photographers and to the great models who work with them to give even more impact to the art of the fashion photograph, whether it's through a narrative, or through a studio, or through a still life, or through a portrait. Because we need that eye, that taste, that culture, and that study to give meaning. In this chapter I'm going to give advice to both creators and those who work with them about making work that is thoughtful and gives meaning. And we are going to look at some of the great photographers and models who have helped to define "Vogue" over the years, and also those who are helping to shape it for the future. Fashion photography can work on lots of different levels. You can have a simple, clean, good fashion image that is a gorgeous woman in the studio, wearing an extraordinary designer creation. And it is very simple, very dignified, very impactful in its simplicity. So there is a great argument to be made for that point of view. And there are masters of photography who do that or have done that better than anyone. Obviously Irving Penn is the one that always comes to mind, or Richard Avedon, or working in today's world, Innez and Vinoodh. Or Mikael Jansson. Or Steven Meisel. Because creating an issue is about creating a mix, the way you might create a fashion show or a collection. It's a series. It's many different studies. Then we're always very inspired by telling a story, whether it's telling a little love story, or telling a story, and taking personalities out of their comfort zone and sending them to a faraway place. Or taking a larger than life personality, then Sean Combs, and sending him to Paris with Kate Moss at a time when hip hop was busting on the world, and throwing open the idea of what a couture shoot could be. It'd always been these remarkably beautiful images. And this was just an extraordinary shock to the world. When we took Naomi and Nadja Auermann into a field and created the grunge look-- and people were so shocked by that. But it was so impactful, and more impactful I feel the way that Grace and Steven created it. It was telling much more of a story than it would have been that it was in a studio. Because to me a narrative takes a reader on a little voyage. And it takes them on an imaginary trip. In a dream I remember a story that Arthur Elgort and Grace Coddington did when they took Linda Evangelista to China. And we hadn't, I think, shot in China since we went with Nancy Kissinger when her husband was secretary of state. So it was a breakthrough moment for "Vogue" to take a fashion shoot to China. And it was so poetic and so romantic. It showed a China to our readers that I don't think that they had seen in the ...

About the Instructor

A fashion and media icon, Anna Wintour has been driving our cultural conversation for more than 30 years. The Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Artistic Director of Condé Nast takes off her signature sunglasses and gives you unprecedented access to her world. See how Anna nurtures talent, makes bold decisions, and evolves a brand. Learn how to lead with impact from a visionary creative leader.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Anna has inspired me to push myself a little harder and trust my creative ideas. I now understand the mentors who pushed me in the past did so because they saw something in me that was worth developing. I realize how discipline, risk-taking and creativity are the basis of success in this field. I had given up my career in journalism and am now excited to start up again.

Superb, I really enjoyed this even though I have no background or plans to work in fashion.

Learning how the importance of those around you is as important as how you choose to lead whatever project you are working on.

I am so impressed with Anna, She is not what I imagined. She is very smart, humble and clear. I enjoy her lessons vey much!


Ruth W.

My fav Vogue fotos are Kate Moss in Bowie's outfits but these photos are stunning !

A fellow student

Shallow waters, lacks depth, somewhat superficial, lacked possibilities. elisheva

A fellow student

brilliant and enjoyable lessons. To tear the mystery of the fashion guru. the memorable punch line: don't lose yourself in one path.


Image through photographers and models have changed over the years. Appreciating diversity, talent, and personalities makes the work more exciting.

Silvia L. G.

The contet of this course is simply magical. For some one who is not currently in the fashion industry but has had experienced working with it in the past (fit model and personal assistant to a Montreal fashion designer) I can understand how all of these principals benefit any indistry.

Erika Von Finck

I think it´s healthy to work with different models and photographers to express the vision and the point of view that you want to reflect at the moment. You can learn not only from their different perspectives and ways of working, but that diversity, is what enriches you in your professional and personal growth and it is reflected in your work and on the monthly cover of the magazine.

A fellow student

I liked the discussion about diversity in models - im going to google Ashley Graham. Also cool to hear Vouge's approach to constantly seeking new photographers to share their generations view on the world - to help keep the images fresh and current.

Sheryl B.

Great Advice Anna on the power of imaginary. It truly does tell many stories and can take you on a journey. I am not in the fashion world, but I read vogue and so many others because not only of the beauty of the pages and clothes, but the stories you build on the pages. Thank you and I am so happy to did this master class.

Linda B.

Had to laugh when Anna said they "created" the grunge look in 1992. We were all wearing that style on the West coast several years before. She just monetized it.

A fellow student

How is it possible that she did not mention the name of Gisele Bündchen!! I'm baffled!!