10 of the Most Famous and Iconic Photo Shoots and the Stories Behind Them

by Kirstin Harrington
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famous celebrity photo shoots

A professional photo shoot is one of the few ways that humans can freeze time. Taking photos has become more and more popular over time. Whether you’re wanting to capture the birth of your first son, your sister’s graduation, or your upcoming wedding, you’ll be able to share the final product with the world.

The public has seen so many iconic photo shoots over the years and we want to share with you 10 of the most famous and iconic photos over the past several years. Hopefully you’ll recognize most of them and learn something new about the history behind the photo.`

Twiggy, by Barry Lategan

When it comes to recognizable famous photos, Twiggy by Barry Lategan is easily one of the most popular. This photo of Twiggy set the standard for beauty in the late 1960’s. Often times people today will draw small lines under their bottom eyelashes to get the “Twiggy look”.

Many people are surprised to hear that Twiggy was just 17 years old during this photoshoot with Barry Lategan. This photo was sent to the Daily Express, a tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. From then on the young woman was deemed the face of 1996.

Owen Bruce for Elle Canada

The majority of the time, editorials are fairly straight forward. The set is kept to a minimum in terms of props and nothing too exciting is involved. Owen Bruce had a different idea when he produced a spread for Elle Canada in autumn of 2015.

Looking at this photo makes you’re part of a fun event or even a classic children’s tale such as Alice in Wonderland. The bright colors and exciting props draws the eye of the reader in and truly stands out amongst other editorial spreads from that time.

ESPN Body Issue

The most recent iconic photoshoot is from the famous sports magazine by ESPN. In 2019 ESPN Magazine released their Body Issue. This was a bold move for the company and it resulted in praise from around the globe. As you turn through several pages of The Body Issue, you will see a myriad of athletes. Seems normal for a sports magazine, right?

Well, ESPN decided that all these famous athletes should pose nude. This allowed the world to see real bodies, unedited. Obviously these athletes have amazing bodies, but you also got to see stretch marks, scars, muscles, and more. Something unique about this shoot is that it shows the strength of naked body, without sexualising it. This can make readers feel better about their bodies and empower future athletes.

Anna Wintour’s First Vogue Cover

Anna Wintour is probably the most famous person in the world of fashion. She has been the Editor in Chief in Vogue since 1988. That same year she got the honor of styling her first magazine cover in November. The cover was quite different than the other editorial magazines during that time. The majority of other editorials would have people perfectly posed in the latest makeup look and fashion trends.

The model on the cover, Michaela Bercu, was photographed on the streets of New York City instead of in a studio. Another way that this stood out for Vogue is that Michaela Bercu was a model, not a celebrity. Up until this 1988 cover, vogue had only had celebrities featured on the cover. Lastly, the suit pants that the model was set to where were too small. On a whim, she decided to wear jeans instead. All of these factors easily make Anna Wintour‘s first Vogue cover iconic.

David and Victoria Beckham for Vogue Italia – July 2003

Speaking of icons in the fashion world, Victoria Beckham as made quite a name for herself. Originally, she found fame as Posh Spice in the insanely popular U.K. girl group The Spice Girls. Her husband, David, is best known for his football skills. He has played for the likes of Manchester United, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and of course, the England National Team. These two love birds had a steamy spread in Vogue Italia in July 2003.

There are some photos of each Beckham individually, but there are a variety of the couple together. Victoria and David are scantily clad in said photos and it quite intense poses as well. These two were usually seen properly dressed, but Vogue Italia knows that sex sells. There were plenty of things implied during this photoshoot with Steven Klein and we’re not complaining. Nearly 20 years later and the couple is still looking amazing!

Nykhor In Bloom

Nykhor Paul is one of the most beautiful and famous supermodels in the world at the time this is written. Kasia Bielska, a photographer, photographed Nykhor Paul in front of bright pink backgrounds and incorporated pink props and accessories to Paul’s outfit. This shoot was for The Lab Magazine in 2014. Some photos had a pink background with Nykhor in light pink attire, while others had her in all white in front of a white backdrop.

With Nykhor’s beautiful skin tone across the minimalist shoot theme, this was bound to be one of the most iconic shoots of all time. One photo even has topless Paul drinking what looks to be a clear glass of pink milk. The final photos look like they should be framed and put on walls, instead of only gracing the editorial section of The Lab Magazine. Kasia, we’ll take one of each on canvas, please!

Kate Moss on the cover of Vogue

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know who Kate Moss is. She is easily one of the most iconic supermodels of our time. She was recruited by a modeling agency at just 14 years old in the late 1980’s. A few years later in the middle of the 1990’s, Moss became a household name thanks to the heroin chic fashion trend. Not surprisingly, her first ever Vogue cover shoot has become one of the most famous photoshoots of all time.

In this photo, Kate was freshly 19 years old. It was graced the cover of British Vogue in the spring of 1993. The cover photo gave Moss the nickname “the face of London Style” due to her large eyes, big lips, and flawless skin. Decades later and she’s still a household name! Good work, Kate!

Steven Klein for Vogue

After the terrorist attacks that occurred on September, 11, 2001, America was tense. No one wanted to see the glitz and glamor of fame during the worst time in the history of the country. Thankfully, Steven Klein delivered something to make a statement to the American people and anyone else watching.

This photo was released in Vogue just two months after the terrorist attacks. The model wears common clothing that most American’s own and stands tall in front of the flag for the United States. It’s so simple, yet makes such a big statement. All of the other photos in the editorial shoot had the same theme and were equally as amazing.

Marilyn Monroe by Ben Ross

Ben Ross photographed the timeless Marilyn Monroe several times. Out of all the photoshoots they did together, there is a set where Monroe is adorned in striped trousers and a black turtleneck. All of these photos show who Marilyn was. She was glamorous, yet appeared to be the girl next door. Men wanted her and women wanted to be her. Not much has changed if we’re being honest.

When most people think of Marliyn Monroe, the famous photo from a movie set of her holding her dress down on top of the subway grate comes to mind. While that wasn’t necessarily a photoshoot, we feel like it deserves an honorable mention. Believe it or not, that was actually staged. It was thought that it would get her press, and some people believe that she set this up in a way to get people talking, and oh, how it worked! She was even quoted saying, “Isn’t that delicious?” as it was happening.

The Power of the White Shirt, by Peter Lindbergh

Last but not least, Peter Lindergh had a photoshoot in the late 1980s that featured six famous supermodels. This included Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Tatjana Patitz, Linda Evangelista, Rachel Williams, and Christy Turlington. All six women were wearing, you guessed it, a white shirt. There are several things that make this photo iconic. For starters, all the women are wearing men’s dress shirts.

While this may not seem like a big deal now, gender was a lot less fluid in the 1980s. You may also notice that the women don’t have makeup on and their hair isn’t professionally styled. According to Peter Lindbergh, nothing in the final photograph was retouched. This shows how beautiful people are without any of the expensive clothing, jewelry, and layers of Photoshop. Unfortunately, The Power of the White Shirt was turned down for publication, but now remains one of the top 10 most iconic photoshoots to ever exist.

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