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Anne Gunning is photographed floating in a cotton mousseline dress by Atrima on India's Dal Lake for a British Vogue shoot in 1956. In the background, model Barbara Mullen sits in a boat rowed by locals across the water.

The Timeless Photography of Norman Parkinson: Selected Works & Biography

Throughout his six-decade career, Norman Parkinson revolutionised what it meant to be a photographer. His approachable yet elegant style and emphasis on storytelling have had an enduring impact on fashion photography and portraiture, moving beyond the stiffness and formality of earlier photographic styles.

Parkinson’s influence on photography and the fashion industry at large continues to inspire newer generations of artists. His work for Vogue, in particular, both captured and defined the trends and practices of the era. Many of these photographs can be found in the latest book of his works, STYLE: Photographs for Vogue, along with captions and commentary from the models and fashion editors who worked closest with Parkinson.

Norman Parkinson: A Trailblazer in Fashion Photography

Parkinson’s career in photography did not begin in fashion. Starting in 1931, he worked for years as an apprentice to the Royal portrait photographer Richard Speaight. Parkinson opened his own Piccadilly studio in 1934 and his portraits of film stars and society celebrities were published in magazines such as The Sketch, Tatler and The Bystander. While visiting another artist at the studio, Harper’s Bazaar editor Joyce Reynolds spotted Parkinson’s work. Impressed, she commissioned him for his first shoot at the magazine, marking the start of a long relationship with Harper’s and the beginning of his fashion career.

During this time, Parkinson honed his signature style, moving models and subjects out of the studio and into the real world. In the 1940s, his career reached new heights after he moved to Vogue, initially taking wartime fashion photographs at his farm in the English countryside. His collaboration with the magazine changed the world of fashion photography forever, as his work gained more recognition and acclaim. Long gone were the days of stoic, unmoving muses acting as mannequins. Parkinson encouraged his models to be more active, dynamic and natural, and to interact with their surroundings. They traveled to exotic locations such as Jamaica, Barbados and America. His focus on creating interest, character, and even humour in his photographs sparked a revolution in the fashion world and the beginning of the “supermodel” era.

This ability to evoke and capture personality in his photographs eventually made Norman Parkinson the go-to choice for celebrity portraiture. His subjects ranged from legendary fashion icons like Iman, Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn, and even the British Royal family. 

Norman Parkinson Limited-Edition Prints

The Iconic Images archives include many of Norman Parkinson’s most recognizable fashion photography prints and celebrity portraits. From his early days at Vogue to his later work as a freelancer, Parkinson worked at the cutting edge of photography until his death in 1990. 

Fashion Photography Prints

Young Velvets, Young Prices photoshoot, 1949 — Limited Edition Print

One of Norman Parkinson’s earlier fashion photography prints, “Young Velvets, Young Prices,” encapsulates his photograph style.

Captured for Vogue, this shot is taken from the roof of the Condé Nast building on Lexington Avenue, highlighting Parkinson’s affinity for out-of-studio environments and fashion photography that tells a story.

Jean Patchett wearing Jean Dessès, 1950 — Limited Edition Print

Taken in April 1950, Norman Parkinson captures American model Jean Patchett for the pages of American Vogue at the height of her career. Patchett is pictured reclining on the sofa and smiling playfully at the camera—injecting personality into the shot while maintaining focus on the stunning Jean Dessès evening gown.

The Art of Travel View 2, 1951— Limited Edition Print

Young actress and model Wenda Parkinson (nee Rogerson) wears a grey Gabardine Dorville dress at George Airfield in Nairobi. As air travel was relatively uncommon at the time, this shot for British Vogue epitomised glamour, placing the model in an unconventional and dynamic setting. Wenda would marry Norman Parkinson later the same year.

Iman for Vogue Italia, 1976 – Limited Edition Print

As a muse to designers such as Gianni Versace, Thierry Mugler, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Yves Saint Laurent, Iman collaborated frequently with Norman Parkinson. Here, Parkinson captures her for the cover of Italian Vogue, sporting a Valentino suit, cape, and headdress.

Deborah Harris in a mermaid's tail, 1990 — Limited Edition Print

This on-location shot of Deborah Harris in Malaysia was Norman Parkinson’s last-ever photography shoot. Featuring a custom Bob Mackie mermaid’s tail, this unconventional shot was part of a series for Town & Country Magazine. Norman Parkinson was 76 years old.

Norman Parkinson’s Celebrity Portraiture

Audrey Hepburn at Villa Rolli, 1955 — Limited Edition Print

In this shot for Glamour magazine, Audrey Hepburn is captured in a stunning Givenchy cocktail dress. Captured in the Alban Hills of Cecchina, Italy, Hepburn smiles and interacts with the gorgeous floral background. This shoot occurred during the filming of King Vidor’s War and Peace on June 23, 1955. 

The Beatles at the President Hotel, 1963 — Limited Edition Print

This shot of The Beatles at the President Hotel exemplifies Norman Parkinson’s ability to capture personality in his portraits. Unlike the serious and posed portraiture of decades before, this shot of the Fab Four is relaxed and playful. Later known as the “Kebab Shot”, Parkinson agreed to the assignment to work with the new band so his son, Simon, could meet them.

Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger in London, 1981 — Limited Edition Print

By 1981, Jerry Hall and Norman Parkinson had worked together several times for British Vogue. This print of Hall and Mick Jagger captures the two in a loving embrace, and was part of a shoot for Parkinson’s exhibition at the London National Portrait Gallery.

David Bowie for Town & Country, 1982 — Limited Edition Print

David Bowie is photographed with a pool cue during a shoot in London for Town & Country magazine. The vibrant background and casual pose highlight Bowie’s glamorous, rock and roll style. At the time, Bowie was in the process of recording his 15th studio album, Let's Dance.

Learn More About Norman Parkinson

Norman Parkinson’s illustrious career both documented and influenced every era from the 1940s war years to the fast-paced ‘80s. By the end of his life, he was a household name, the recipient of a CBE, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and the subject of a large-scale retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery.

In STYLE: Photographs for Vogue, readers can learn more about the enduring impact of Norman Parkinson’s work for Vogue on the world of fashion and photography. To see more of his limited-edition fashion photography prints and celebrity portraits, explore Iconic’s Norman Parkinson collection. For inquiries about the collection or a specific piece, please contact our team of experts and art advisors. 

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