There’s a snowballing trend in recent fashion seasons, one that might prove to be a hurdle for photographers. Photographers are getting used to these hurdles: in the middle of a global financial crisis, cutting the photographer from a business’ yearly expenses may appear a fail safe solution. And with programs such as Instagram, everyone’s a photographer.

Fashion designers are adding yet another string to their bow. Fashion photographer Hedi Slimane, the 44 year old Parisian and current creative director of Saint Laurent Paris is one of many creatives to jump behind the camera. Starting in 2000 Slimane has taken various ‘personal development’ breaks from designing. During these times he was a fashion and portrait photographer, gaining widespread credibility. Now back holding the reigns at YSL, he has continued to lens their campaigns.

saint laurent campaign
Saint Laurent campaign image shot by Hedi Slimane

Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel is another designer who not only shoots his campaigns, but occasionally editorials for fashion magazines such as Visionaire. Two new additions to the group are Domenico Dolce from Dolce & Gabanna and Tom Ford at Tom Ford. Tom Ford famously directed the beautiful movie A Single Man, so we all know we is quite versed in telling a visual story.

tom ford single manScene from Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man

But why?

Who understands the direction and ideas behind a collection better than the designer him/herself? Maybe the brands save a buck or two. Having the designers name to the images makes it more news worthy (or blog worthy). It ads to the designer’s public profile, another common trend within the fashion industry. Highlighting the designer’s creative prowess may also increase the consumer’s trust in the brand and adding more value.

Some may argue that they aren’t trained in lighting and other technicalities and therefore cannot be considered photographers. But anyone can learn lighting, anyone can operate a camera and more importantly: anyone can hire a lighting technician, plethora of assistants, cinematographer, set designers and digital operators.

chanel campaign by karl lagerfeld
Chanel S/S ’13 campaign image shot by Karl Lagerfeld

What makes a photographer special (and valuable) is his or her creative vision. In a visually saturated world, these photographers continue to create images that make people stop, engage and dream. They create engaging imagery that will speak directly to the fashion houses’ target audience. Throughout their years of working and reworking their aesthetic they have become masters in directing models, and capturing that special something.

This season’s campaigns as a whole are a little unimaginative. Perhaps this has something to do with the new crop of designers-come-photographers taking over the camera. Perhaps the campaigns are following the footsteps of the conservative collections in an financially challenged industry.

dolce gabbana spring 13 campaign
Dolce & Gabbana S/S ’13 campaign shot by Domenico Dolce

Either way, I personally hope this trend doesn’t last too long.

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