Renowned for his bold distinctive style, mastery of color and elaborate sets, David LaChapelle has carved a unique place for himself in photographic history. Over the last 30 years, his commercial work has made him one of the world’s most in-demand photographers with iconic musicians, supermodels, politicians, sports stars and celebrities vying for time in front of his camera. His fine art work is equally as lauded and highly collectable with his images exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe including the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Monnaie de Paris, Groninger Museum (Netherlands), and The U.S. National Portrait Gallery.
David LaChapelle spent years in the darkroom and mastered the art of printing first hand, but he now creates his iconic imagery with a Phase One camera system. In fact, it’s been over a decade since LaChapelle made the switch from film to medium format digital and we’ve been there along the way documenting this artist at work.
Over the years we’ve witnessed some of LaChapelle’s signature fine-art and commercial shoots in action, which we have documented in the videos below. However, in our most recent visit, we were fortunate to film him at home in Hawaii. This intimate look at this artist’s life is in stark contrast to the hubbub that usually surrounds him. LaChapelle talks about his island life as paradise; here he gets time to recharge and find inspiration in these lush natural surroundings. And without any make-up artists, stylists, set builders or flash, this is David LaChapelle as you’ve never seen him before.
I wouldn't do a photo shoot like this without the Phase One. To print large-scale images for exhibitions there's nothing comparable to the Phase One system.
During the last decade we’ve been up-close and seen the evolution of some of David LaChapelle’s fine-art creations. We saw first-hand how much preparation went into the Land Scape series during months of work in his Los Angeles studio before shooting on location in the Californian desert. A few years later, we then watched LaChapelle and his crew at work capturing singer/fashion icon Daphne Guinness in the studio featuring his signature sets, sumptuous costumes and precise lighting arrangements. Take a look at the behind the scenes of these two unique projects.
Since the mid 1990s, LaChapelle has often been referred to as the “Fellini of Photography”. His fine art work combines a visually striking aesthetic with insightful underlying meaning. For the series Land Scape, handcrafted scale models of oil refineries were painstakingly made out of everyday items including drinking straws and plastic cups. Captured on location in the desert, the striking final images confront the issues and effects of industrialization on society, climate and environmental preservation.
Get an insight into the preparation and creative vision of this unique artist at work here.
Evening in Space
This shoot titled, Evening in Space features LaChapelle’s elaborate and out-of-this-world sets with an incredible wardrobe for fashion icon/singer Daphne Guinness. This music video and stills production included a full camera crew, set-builders, stylists, make-up artists as well as lighting and camera assistants working against the clock to create a series of otherworldly images. Take a peek behind the curtain in this behind-the-scenes video and discover what’s really involved in one of LaChapelle stunning signature shoots.
In any of my photographs I want to express something, I want to say something, communicate. For me a picture is not finished until a viewer connects with it. That's the sort of magic of art in general, just communicating something to someone else.
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