Norman Parkinson was a much celebrated British photographer with an eye for style and subtle beauty. He is best known for injecting spontaneous and casual elegance to his images and for redefining fashion photography beyond the stiff formality of others.
Norman Parkinson (1913 – 1990) was the pre-eminent fashion photographer in Great Britain from the late ‘30s until his death in 1990. Born in 1913, Parkinson was apprenticed to a portrait photographer and by the age of twenty-one opened his own studio. He soon began to work for the British edition of Harper’s Bazaar. During the Second World War he served as a reconnaissance photographer over France for the Royal Air Force. Throughout his long career he contributed to many publications, including Vogue, Queen, and Town and Country. Parkinson revolutionised the world of British fashion photography in the ‘40s by bringing his models from the rigid studio environment into a far more dynamic outdoor setting His work became famous for its liveliness, spontaneity and humour, as well as the creative use of his outdoor locations. His work has the ability to capture accurately the spirit of the period in which he is working, always conveying amusement, and joie de vivre. Parkinson always wore a Kashmiri wedding hat while taking photographs, but behind his somewhat eccentric exterior was a sharp mind. As he once commented, ‘The camera can be the most deadly weapon since the assassin’s bullet. Or it can be the lotion of the heart’. Parkinson had a true understanding of fashion, femininity and elegance but always imbued his images with liveliness.