For Patrick Demarchelier, photography is not a profession – it is a passion.
– I just love it. Everything about it. Every day is an adventure and it doesn’t matter if it’s about fashion, portraits or personal projects. It’s always incredibly interesting what the result of the day will be. To exhibit at Fotografiska, which I’ve heard so much about, is very exciting, says Patrick Demarchelier, one of the world’s most successful fashion photographers of all time.
His passion for photography, and for life, glows around this icon, who has been in the centre of the world of fashion since the 1970s. He resides since many years in New York with his wife, Swedish model Mia, and the couple has three children. One of them, their son Victor is deeply involved in his father’s studio.
But everything has a beginning, and for Demarchelier it started with a camera as a present from his stepfather. Young Patrick, growing up with his mother in Le Havre, instantly got a taste for photography, which took him to Paris in search for a job. Eventually he seized a position at an agency taking portfolio portraits for models.
– That’s how I ended up in the fashion industry. I didn’t have a particular interest for fashion or clothes; it was photography itself that I loved. “Show me the light and it makes me tick”. One thing led to another and I got a job as an assistant with photographer Hans Feurer who worked for Vogue in Paris. Ever since then I have, throughout my career, always had a very intense and rewarding relation with this worldwide magazine and it’s various editions, says Demarchelier, who describes himself as your average jeans guy.
When arriving in New York, he was first hired by Mademoiselle. His work there was noticed by Alexander Liberman, director at Condé Nast, who wanted Demarchelier to start working for American Vogue.
– Of course it was a wonderful surprise that really delighted me. Another surprise was when Princess Diana asked me to be her personal photographer. It was after a photo I had taken in some context where a child was hiding under a coat. Diana with her young sons really liked the photo, and after that we started working together. She was a lovely human being and it was a very special period of my career. That was also the first time the British Royal Court hired a non-British photographer.
Demarchelier is famous for his ability to constantly renew himself, to not get stuck in trends, but always move forward. Forward on his own path and not following anyone else’s. An attitude that seems to permeates his entire life.
– When I’m photographing, I always want to seize the moment and not plan too much. A lot is about intuition. I see it as a constant process and that you learn from your mistakes. It’s about trying your way forward and my goal is for the models to always feel safe enough to find new sides to themselves.
Something he often is very successful to achieve. With great result, he has created, and continues to create, famous photographs for just as famous fashion houses, designers and models. He has made numerous covers and captured numerous moments. Many of these are from the era during which Demarchelier had a great part in creating the super models of our time. Models from the 1980s and 90s with such a high star-quality that fashion houses lined up to put them on their catwalks and in their campaigns – strong women who knew of their value.
– Most important is their personality. That goes before beauty. Therefore it’s important to make the models feel relaxed and safe during the photo-shoots, so I talk a lot with them. Generally I trust my intuition when I work, everything is open. For me, fashion is art, and a fantastic forum in which to create beautiful portraits. Here, new results are achieved in the encounter between garment and model. I regard the models as artists – when they are allowed to be themselves you reach the best goal. That’s when I can find the unique expression in every individual.
Demarchelier has photographed them all in various ways, from street fashion to haute couture in marvellous creations decorating beauties like Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen, to mention only a few of the favourites he often returns to. Nowadays more and more TV- and film stars are decorating the magazine covers, but new trends are moving in here as well.
– For instance I recently photographed the Instagram star Gigi and we constantly see new stars emerging through social media. Nothing is constant, but all is in constant movement, and that’s also how I work. My curiosity for the next challenge is great, and my best photograph is always the one I am going to take the next day…