INTRO

Peter Lindbergh is a fashion photographer most famously known for his memorable cinematic images. He has been one of the most influential photographers in the industry and has changed the way that many people view the modern model. His work is elegant and emotive and is typically captured in black and white. Peter Lindbergh’s success has to lead him to work for big names like Vogue and work on campaigns for Calvin Klein and David Yurman. He has created some of the world’s most famous publications.

LIFE

Peter Lindbergh was born on the 23rd of November, 1944, in Lissa, just west of Poland. He doesn’t remember much of his birth home as he was forced by the Russians to flee with his family when he was just two months old.

“What I know are my mum, my grandmother and my sister and my brother and I got on a little platform with two wheels and a horse, left there and ended up traveling 2,500km. Isn’t that incredible? In the war! We traveled through Berlin all the way down to south Germany, in the Alps.”

Peter Lindbergh was the youngest of three children, and witnessed some horrific things during the war, like his father being shot. A snap took off his fingers while he was on duty. Peter Lindbergh believes it saved his life as his father worked in the barracks for the rest of the war. When he returned home, he became a salesman for a sweet company.

Eventually, the family ended up moving to Duisburg, the center of Germany’s steel industry.

“We had no money. We had three small floors, for five people. Today when I go into my apartment I have a huge hall and big rooms with high ceilings…It was the worst industrial, depressive part of Germany. But it was great. We had nothing, but I didn’t miss nothing so that was fine.”

EDUCATION

Peter Lindbergh left school at the age of just 14 to start work as a window dresser in a local branch of the Karstadt department store. There he stayed for four years before moving to Switzerland at 18 to avoid military service in Germany. After settling down in Berlin, he got a job at Karstadt again. But it wasn’t long before he started to see other possibilities.

Peter Lindbergh visited a museum, and his whole life changed. He had never seen an exhibition, an art book, never listened to music, nothing. Because of this, he developed a passion for art and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. That didn’t last long, however, as he decided to follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh and go to Arles to discover himself. There Peter Lindbergh worked on a farm in the mornings and painted in the afternoons. He sold his work in the markets to make some extra money. After eight months he set off around Europe hitchhiking and gaining a new perspective on the world.

When Peter Lindbergh discovered photography, it was actually by accident.

“My brother had fabulous children before I had children and for some reason, I wanted to photograph them, and that was when I got my first camera. Children have something totally unconscious about them. That’s how I learned.”

CAREER

With his passion for photography growing and his skills only getting better, Peter Lindbergh moved to Paris in 1978 and started working for the major fashion house, Vogue. He would shoot for the Italian, English, French, German and American editions. Later, Peter Lindbergh was hired and shot for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Allure, and Rolling Stone.

It wasn’t until 1988, when Anna Wintour arrived at American Vogue, that Peter Lindbergh’s career really took off. It was during this time that he shot Wintour’s first, and at the time revolutionary, American Vogue cover, featuring a model in a Jean Paul Gaultier couture sweatshirt and jeans.

He also photographed the 1990 Vogue cover that featured famous supermodels Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington. This would become one of the most iconic fashion images of that era, and even our times.

Peter Lindbergh has had an outstanding career, from shooting Helena Christensen for Italian Vogue, working for American Harper’s Bazaar, shooting the Pirelli calendar twice, and being named the best photographer at the International Fashion Awards.

Peter Lindbergh still does fashion photography, but it now focuses on showcasing his collections at exhibitions.

COLLECTIONS

Peter Lindbergh has such strong themes in his photographs, and he is easily recognizable because of the timelessness of the portraits, featuring no make-up, and without glamourous hair.  

He created a memorable style that has been adopted as one of the iconic images of the 1990s: young models without makeup, wearing simple clothing (white shirts). The models I photographed were Naomi, Linda, Cindy, Christy, and Tatjana, and it ushered in a new era of a supermodel.

Peter Lindbergh introduced a form of new realism into the fashion industry by redefining the standards of what we all believed to be a beauty. He was influenced by documentary photographers, street photographers and photojournalists like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand.

Peter Lindbergh has changed the standards of fashion photography in times where excessive retouching is something that photographers believe to be important. He considers there to be something else that makes a person interesting, beyond their age.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PETER LINDBERGH

1. Peter Lindbergh tends to work with the same models over and over again – Mariacarla Boscono, Kate Moss, and Kristen McMenamy. He is like a choreographer, these girls are his dancers and it’s not about finding the new all the time, but building a relationship and creating a style that is beyond fashion.

2. Peter Lindbergh believed that if there is one thing that he understands at 73, it’s that the best attitude for a human being to have is not to be impressed by circumstances and not to try to impress others.

3. He is fascinated by wrinkles, different body shapes, and life stories which he believes are important to him. He is inspired by people, not at all by their social status and their fortune or level of fame.

4. He refuses to use any retouching methods, and believe that a model should be photographed naturally.

AWARDS

  • 1996: Raymond Loewy Foundation Award.
  • 2014: Honoured for his longtime contributions to AIDS awareness at the annual amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street.