Remembering Hiro, the Photographer Behind Some of Vogue’s Most Captivating Images

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About halfway through the April 1982 issue of Vogue, what could have been a helpful but mundane story on foot care turned out to be one of the most memorable stories ever to appear in the magazine. In fact, one image—of a model’s foot perched on an octopus and black stones—was chosen for Vogue’s seminal 1992 book On the Edge, celebrating the most important images from the magazine’s first 100 years. 

The story was shot by a photographer known as “Hiro.” Although his name was simple, his images were astonishingly complex and innovative. Even at the time, the magazine realized the importance of his work, noting in the lead to the story: “beginning on the next page, an extraordinary photographic essay by Hiro—one that views feet from entirely new perspectives.”

Having begun his career in the late 1950s as an apprentice to legendary Vogue photographer Richard Avedon, Hiro quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the most important photographers of the late 20th century. Martin Harrison, arguably the first photo historian to chart the history of fashion photography with his 1991 book Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945, applauded Hiro’s impact on fashion photography, devoting multiple pages to his work and comparing him to an earlier Vogue photographer and technical innovator, Erwin Blumenfeld: “His awesome ‘black-light’ and hallucinatory multiple flash photographs were the first major advance on Blumenfeld’s color experiments, and continue to be influential today.” 

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Phyllis Posnick, executive fashion editor of Vogue from 1987-2020 and now a contributing editor, worked with Hiro and recalls, “His pictures were so technically perfect and proficient, one might imagine him having a clinical personality, but in fact he was the opposite; he was charming, curious, warm and engaging.”

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