Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty investigates the transformative experience of the photograph. In this book Deborah Willis explores historical perceptions of beauty and desire through artistic and ethnographic imagery and the role individual photographers play in constructing ways of seeing. Through the themes of idealized beauty, the unfashionable body, the gendered image, and photography as memory, Willis challenges and makes problematic the “reading” of photographic images in the 21st century.
Working from the significant photographic holdings of the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery, and the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, the author examines shifting gender attitudes that emerged in work by women photographers such as Gertrude Käsebier and Diane Arbus. Willis discusses ethnographic ideologies underpinning the work of Edward Sheriff Curtis and Fred E. Miller who worked with Native American subjects, as well as the framing and reframing of images of black people in the work of Samuel Montague Fassett and Carrie Mae Weems. Additionally, the effects of fashion and desire on the imaging of beauty are examined in the work of such artists as Don Wallen, Janieta Eyre, and Jan Saudek. The book includes full-page illustrations of works by more than fifty internationally recognized photographers including Lisette Model, Imogen Cunningham, Lewis Wickes Hine, Bruce Davidson, Cecil Beaton, Nan Goldin, André Kertész, Lee Friedlander, Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol.