The marriage of fashion and photography seems ubiquitous in our era of street style blogs, personal style websites and digital fashion publications. What had existed as two separate spheres of society has now become an essential component of both industries. When Deborah Turbeville began shooting images after working as a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle, neither journalism nor art nor fashion knew just quite what to do with her. At age twenty she was working for designer Claire McCardell, quickly advancing to the mastheads of the best publications of her time. It was only after seminars with Richard Avedon and Marvin Israel that she leapt into the world of photography that encompassed everything she knew– fashion, people and the transformative power of light.
Deborah Turbeville continues to produce work even as the genre she pioneered has become profoundly saturated. In 2002, she traveled to the Baltic School of Photography to fulfill a Fulbright grant teaching a seminar on her craft. She later taught at St. Petersburg’s Smolney institute and completed her book, Past Imperfect. A reflection on her body of work from 1974 to the late 1990′s, Turbeville gave the world a brief look into her inspiration and rich history. Unknown models peer out from fashion shoot outtakes, strangers in European cities look out and past the camera, and vignettes show clearly that light and intensity are the soul of her work. Even as fashion photographers become a dime a dozen and anyone with a point-and-shoot can throw together a photo spread, Turbeville remains an important figure in the craft she pioneered. She now divides her time between New York, St. Petersburg and Mexico; showing in galleries and being published often in L’uomo Vogue, Casa Vogue and Italian Vogue. — Text by Kelsey Kreiling