INTRO

When the sixties were roaring and street style wasn’t a thing, fashion photography was largely confined to the spaces of studios that had controlled lighting. Then along came fashion photography Arthur Elgort. A Brooklyn boy with a love for art, he pushed the perimeters of fashion photography by capturing his subjects with nothing more than movement and natural light. His snapshots and approach to photography revolutionized a new era for fashion and soon major magazines like Vogue, Glamour, GQ, and Rolling Stone couldn’t get enough of Elgort’s emotionally charged collections. Known today as liberating fashion photography, Elgort has been and continues to be an unwitting trailblazer and absolutely adored by the fashion industry.

LIFE

Arthur Elgort was born on the 8th of June 1940, in Brooklyn, New York. His mother and father, Sophie and Harry Elgort, are both from a Russian-Jewish heritage and owned a restaurant when Arthur was growing up.

Not much is known about the famous fashion photographer growing up, but it’s his later life that he loves to boast about to the fashion world. Married to Grethe Barrett Holby an American producer, stage director, choreographer and dramaturge, the two have three beautiful children, Sophie, Warren, and Ansel.

EDUCATION

Arthur left school and attended Hunter College, studying painting. It was a strong passion of his, but he states throughout his career that he felt very lonely painting, as it was an isolated profession. He had fun studying painting but disliked the fact that his nails were dirty all the time. Working as a waiter to put himself through college, he could never get the paint off. That was until he discovered photography.

“I started taking pictures — Polaroids — of my paintings, and that’s how I began. It was almost all girls at my school, so I used them as my models. And then I slowly showed that to people, and they said, “Maybe you should be a photographer instead.” And I said, “That’s a good idea.”

Before he knew it, someone took an interest in Arthurs pictures and presented them to Mademoiselle magazine where his career began.

CAREER

Arthur Elgort started working for Mademoiselle magazine where he built the foundation of what is considered to be an outstanding career in fashion photography. He would eventually move to Europe where he would work for British Vogue, Italian Vogue, and French Vogue for the next few years.

Eventually, Alexander Liberman contacted him personally and asked him to come and work for American Vogue as he believed his pictures were made for their audience. In 1971, he made his debut as a fashion photographer of American Vogue and has since then made models into muses, helped an endless number of designers climb the career ladder, and helped to create icons.

Arthurs relaxed snapshot was a breath of fresh air in the fashion industry. The models he chose to advance his career were lively, wore less makeup, and only enhanced the natural light. Taking his models outside into the real world became his signature style. It’s no wonder that he quickly became known as one of the best fashion photographers of the modern age.

For well over 40 years, Arthur Elgort’s ideas of the modern woman and her take on fashion have been the center point of many Vogue covers and spreads. Due to his brilliance and success at Vogue, he gained the opportunity to shoot for Vogue’s international counterparts, as well as other top fashion magazines. His life-long career has also given him the chance to work on major ad campaigns, highly coveted high-end fashion houses, and some of the most luxurious brands.

In addition to shooting some of the world’s top and most beautiful models and celebrities, he has gone backstage several times at the New York City Ballet and jazz clubs to capture dancers and musicians.

COLLECTIONS

Arthur Elgort made his make as one of the greatest fashion photographers in 1971 when his portfolio of black-and-white pictures emerged. The famous shot was of a model playing with a dog ran in the British Vogue magazine. This was the moment when something new was injected into fashion photography – movement. This famous and iconic snapshot aesthetic has characterized and influenced his work since the beginning of his career. It has garnered him high acclaim for bringing buoyancy, lightness, and naturalism into fashion and advertising images.

He still has a strong passion for photographing dancers, and his latest work will be focusing on some of his passions in this industry. He states:

“One of my girlfriends was a dancer, so I would go and sit in the doorway and practice with the dancers. I loved that, but I realized I wouldn’t make any money. So I said, what’s the closest thing to that? Fashion. So I got into fashion, and I’m still doing fashion. But I still do dancers, too. My next book will be just about dance.”

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ARTHUR ELGORT

1. He has a great love for his children and thinks they are the best models – “From the moment each of my children was born, they have been my favorite thing to photograph…Even now that they are all grown up and starting to move away from home, I still take pictures of each one every chance I get.”

2. He didn’t get along with famous model Grace Coddington at the beginning of their professional relationship – “I was very New York–y, and she was very Wales. She was a model, ‘and I felt like I talked funny, you know, for her. I would say it took a few jobs to get her interested, but then we got along. We liked the same kinds of things. She’s always thinking. She’s as old as me, but we still work.”

3. He uses both digital and film to capture his photographs, however, he prefers to use real film.

4. He saved up for his first camera when he was working as a waiter. He used to have a tin box where he’d save money in and when he had enough, he bought my first camera, which was a Nikon.

5. He has huge respect for his parents and the support they have given him – “They thought I was crazy, but then they went to the beauty parlor and saw my photograph on the cover of Mademoiselle and said, “You know what? You’re right!” So they were proud also.”

AWARDS

  • CFDA Board of Directors Award 2011
  • Sundance Film Festival 1994 – Best Cinematography