Through the Eyes of Fashion Photographer Clifford Coffin

Vogue cover of Jean Patchett, 195

Fashion photographer Clifford Coffin is best known for his ability to make models look glamorous and document the stories of the women he photographed.  He transformed beauty standards and the art of fashion photography. He was a photographer for Vogue from 1944 to 1958 and worked for British, French and American Vogue and Glamour magazine. I was surprised when I discovered that Clifford Coffin was one of my distant relatives on my dad’s side of my family.

Although he wished to pursue ballet, his father insisted on having a business career so he took classes at an art institute in Pasadena while he studied finances at UCLA. He moved to New York and created a small portfolio with a cheap camera. He made the bold move of going straight to Vogue to apply for a side job. He was told that his work was good but needed to improve so after going back multiple times, he was offered a trial job for three months with no salary while the main photographers were drafted for the war.

unknown models, 1949

Impressed by his work, Coffin was offered  job at British Vogue and published his first small photographs. Throughout his career at Vogue he photographed 13 covers and won multiple awards for his work although he never self-published any of it.

Nancy Berg, 1954

He had a articulate eye for how to photograph his models and was called a perfectionist. He took pictures of several famous figures such as Ernst Hemingway and Janine Klein, his most famous portrait of Christian Dior. He was also known for taking pictures of women he met on the street or at parties. His work expressed the beauty of the clothing and models he photographed.

Mary Jane Russell, 1950


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