Critical Review of Corinne Day – brilliant photographer or just a junkie with a camera?

Corinne Day is named of the most important fashion and documentary photographers from Britain. Her photographs of Kate Moss were responsible for putting her on the map of the fashion world. She started with innocent pictures of a young Kate Moos and brought her on her first magazine cover. On another job Corinne Day worked with Kate on a photo shoot for ‘Vogue’. “I’d photographed Kate in her flat. I bought some underwear from an Ann Summers sex shop in Brewer Street, which is where I live. I also bought some American tan tights and got Liza Bruce to copy some t-shirts of mine so at least there were some designer credits in the magazine. The photographs looked cheap and tacky – everything Vogue wasn’t supposed to be.” (2000) For seven years ‘Vogue’ would not want to work with Corinne Day again. The photographs were to daring in the time of original supermodels like Cindy Crawford.


Her husband introduced her in 1993 to the band ‘Pusherman’, a ‘hard drugs’ taking rock-band. They went together on tour and Corinne Day first started to photograph in documentary style. She also made first experience with hard drugs. Because the band spilt up because of drug relating problems the ‘rock-documentary’ has been never done, Day decided to make a photographic diary of her and her friends in the style of Nan Goldin’s ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’. Drugs became part of her life and she captured every moment. The result was a pornographic book full snapshot of drug-addicted junkies consuming drugs. We could see Corinne Days naked, pregnant, without knickers but a tampon removal cord hanging out of her, we could see her cry, and we could see her laughing. What does that has to do with artistic photography? What has that to do with fashion and why people call her one of the greatest photographers? Because she was not just a fashion photographer! Her book ‘diary’ which was published in 2000 is a piece of art of documentary photographs. She was producing truthful and objective pictures of a lifestyle not everybody can share. Drugs were part of her life and she was capturing it.

After publishing her book, Corinne Day was getting jobs at Vogue again. She was taking pictures for a few Vogue magazines in UK, Italy and Japan. Corinne Day tried hardly to bring more of the documentary look in to fashion photography, but not like shown in her diary. She tried to bring more biographical elements into the picture. For example the difference between Gemma Ward’s picture and Corinne’s friend Tara. Gemma is a fashion shoot by Corinne Day and the photograph of Tara was part of her documentary


Gemma Ward Glastonbury 2005 Vogue UK  October 2005 by CD

Gemma Ward Glastonbury 2005 Vogue UK October 2005 by CD

project ‘diary’. Gemma Ward is clearly posing in the picture while Tara was photographed when she was sitting on the floor. While the background of the fashion is carefully chosen, the background of Tara’s picture looks like she is sitting in her own garden. The difference between the fashion shoot and the documentary shoot is that the fashion shoot is made; everything in the picture is planned. The documentary picture documents the moment in which it has been taken. The sense of documentary photography is to reflect the reality without objectivity. Fashion photography is about creating a new reality within a picture.


Tara 1999

Tara 1999



Corinne Day is a great photographer. She maybe had a drug problem but in both, the fashion photography and documentary photography, she was really good. In her ‘diary’ she recorded her life in pictures, and in fashion photography she was shooting for magazine as Vogue. Corinne Day was on of the best and futuristic photographers from the UK.




Pictures available at:

Gemma Ward, Glastonbury, 2005, Vogue UK, October 2005 by Corinne Day <; (accessed on 29 Nov 2010)
Tara, 1999, Corinne Day, available at: <; (accessed on 29 Nov 2010)

About thorstendurbaumcmp

I'm studying CMP at the University of Westminster.
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