Business, Politics & Society

The Power of an Image: Photographers and Models

Anna Wintour

Lesson time 15:52 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.
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[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 ...

How to be a boss

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.

Brilliant. Fascinating and inspiring...I am now going to UP my game!

What a great teacher. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experiences. I will view this one again, from time to time.

Thank you very much for this masterclass by Mdm Anna Wintour. It’s priceless. She is a great leader for all of us to learn from.

I am a small business owner in the beauty industry. Our world of beauty coincides in so may ways, with fashion. Being able to hear from someone who is such a pinnacle of success, is truly invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will watch it several times. Thank you for engaging Anna Wintour in this process and sharing it with all of us.


Sarah B.

Diverse in front of the camera, but what about behind it? How diverse is the staff and crew?

Suze Yalof S.

So smart to take a stand on the age of models after the #metoo movement . Irving Penn was such a creative genius and I think it was Phylis Posnick (so?) who was one of few editors he would shoot with in the early 90’s . Could watch this over and over again!

Malia O.

Annas attention to detail, clear expression, and fearlessness in a world of so many opinions is really refreshing and incredibly inspiring. Love this masterclass!

Wenna P.

Not sure Anna Wintour's class is relatable by any stretch but entertaining. Please bring more writing classes to Masterclass.

Lilibel P.

Not sure about 5. How did the peacocks relate to the bringing value...because the trainer left the door open, I suppose he had no value?


Loved this. I am a painter and these lessons apply. Actually they apply to everything you do. This will help me look for the perfect image - one that tells my story. I'm going to open my eyes wide and see things with a broader vision