Ok, now I'm more awake I'm going to attempt to answer my own question. If this post comes across as a little academic or whatever, my apologies but I think it is interesting to consider. The wonderful resource that is wikipedia defines fashion photography as "a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items...enhanced by exotic locations or storylines."
Generally our ideas of fashion photography, or maybe just mine, involve glamourous clothing...something that represents a lifestyle just beyond our reach, a fantasy or dream. Yet some photographers, for example Corinne Day have thrown this idea out and redefined that view. Her style is touching on an almost documentary look, which leads us to question whether it could be considered fashion photography at all. One example is a shoot for Vogue in 1993, involving Kate Moss in her own flat.
At the time this style caused quite a stir. The almost voyeuristic feel to these photographs...fly on the wall documentary if you like, takes a step back from the typical photoshoots that people were used. The fact that these were featured in Vogue, usually a traditional magazine that has quite a defined, classic and high end style also adds to the shock factor. I would never have thought that these images were in Vogue, and have the feel of more edgier magazines of the time such as The Face. Would you consider these images to be fashion photography? All Kate Moss is wearing is a vest and underwear, which I don't think were particularly designerish, just plain. The images are simple, everyday, maybe even to the point of mundane. So what makes them fashion photography as much as the image below?
All three images are classed as fashion photography...they show the clothes the model is wearing in one context or another. Although fashion photography was traditionally used as a sales tool, I think fashion photography has moved away from this idea and now its more about selling a lifestyle. I don't think it is just about selling either, but also to do with the meaning created within the image. Fashion isn't just about amazing clothes with a very nice price tag, its about identity and clothes do create or contribute to identity. The Corinne Day photographs tell the story about just an everyday person, and the clothes they way help convey this meaning. If fashion is about clothes then the clothes in this image are key to the meaning produced in this image, just as much as the Vanity Fair (January 07) shoot does.
I think the definition or boundaries of fashion photography are broadening with time. The street style images on lookbook.nu are fashion photography as much as a Mario Testino fashion story for Vogue is fashion photography. Whether you are wearing Primark or Prada, if there is a message being produced in that image it is fashion photography.
What do you think? Also if your into the theoretical side of fashion I highly recommend the book Fashion Spreads: Word and Image in Fashion Photography by Paul Jobling. It is such a good book..check it out on amazon!