Fashion Culture | Fashion’s First Black Photographer

Gordon Parks accomplished many firsts, including the distinction of being the first black photographer at Vogue, Glamour, and Life magazines.

He worked at Life for nearly 25 years and completed over 300 assignments. He was a documentary and fashion photographer; a film director, writer, producer; a poet, novelist, essayist; and a composer. Among his notable films are Shaft and The Learning Tree.

Black fashion history, typically, is not part of the Western narrative from culture institutions to academia. It is unknown, or if known, overlooked.  In the belief that fashion is a legitimate subject of study, EDGE’s education and Fashion Culture series acknowledges the significant contribution Black fashion makers and Black influencers are to fashion’s history.

Credit: The Gordon Parks Foundation

Photo: Gordon Parks photography, Department Store, Mobile Alabama, 1956 | Frieze Los Angeles, Paramount Pictures Studio

Source:, Referenced in the Congressional Record, is an online reference center of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet.

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Rhonda P. Hill

Founder, Publishing Editor