David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle is a well-known American photographer and director working in the field of fashion, advertising and art photography. Being one of the richest photographers in the world LaChapelle does not make photo session if the customer's amount of charge is less than $200,000. The photographer's works are famous for their surreal, shocking and erotic manner and quite often have humorous subtext.

The man called today's Salvador Dali is worshipped or rejected for his striking and distinctive style, it is hardly possible to not recognize or overlook his works. For many years, LaChapelle has been one of the most sought-after photographers and videographers. A dreamer, inventor and innovative advertiser, he succeeded in the field of art photography, fashion magazines, commercials and music videos (not to mention LaChapelle is no less resourceful and cunning as a director).
Subscribe to FS!
Subscribe to FotoSlovo - magazine about photography, art and multimedia!
We share with you Inspiration, tell about exhibitions, explore new trends and interview iconic Artists.

"If my head is empty and there are no ideas in my diary, where I usually do sketches, then I stimulate my imagination with Renaissance paintings, architecture, erotic paintings, old editions of Playboy magazine, history of fashion and listening to music. I'm trying to stir my imagination up.
It is like a muscle that needs to start working. And once that happens, ideas cannot be stopped.."

David was born in 1963 in Connecticut, USA. Albeit the fact of being the third child in the family he was surrounded with love and care and the boy was forgiven for lots of things including poor academic results in school.
At the age of 14, David moved to New York, where he graduated from the school of fine arts. He simultaneously entered two art schools, yet the young man was way more attracted by the nightlife of the metropolis.

LaChapelle enjoyed night clubs such as Sudio 54 and it was here where the key event for his whole life happened - acquaintance with Andy Warhol. Being only 18 years old, David did not have a diploma yet, but he already had a portfolio with several photographs. Warhol surprisingly appreciated David's shots and offered him a job in his now iconic Interview magazine. There David began to photograph the celebrities and after a few flourishing years went on to collaborate with such outlets as Rolling Stone, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Photo. Later, his career continued going up rapidly as he was receiving campaigns for global brands.
At 19 years old, LaChapelle compiled a list of the richest and most famous stars that he wanted to photograph. By the early 2000s, he photographs them all in the most incredible ways and poses.
LaChapelle gained wide popularity due to his portraits of superstars such as Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio and many other actors and musicians. At the same time, David gains fame of a brawler. A good example for his love to scandal is his 1995 ad for Diesel company, that captures kissing gay men in military uniforms of World War II . That photograph caused such a wide public resonance that it entailed US Government's law enactment exempting gay men from military service. Subsequently, this law was revoked by Barack Obama no sooner than in 2011.
Glory literally fell upon the photographer. In the 1990s, he honored with his main prizes and awards. In 1995, David LaChapelle was recognized as France's best photographer of the year, he was also awarded with an equal prize in America by Photo Magazine. In 1996, LaChapelle received the VH1 Fashion Award, also in the "Best Photographer" category. The following year, he won the 'Infinity Award' by the International Center of Photography. The photographer's work exhausted him to the limit so much he was forced to go to a psychiatric hospital in order to deal with workaholism and depression (since then he periodically repeats such rehabs to restore his mental well being).

"Yes, I do work on certain colors. People think that my main focus is the post-shooting process but in fact that's not true. Light is also extremely important. We often use reflectors, sometimes flashes. It depends on what we want to get in the end!"

David proved himself to be a great director as well: he opened his own studio and shot a number of ads and music videos.
LaChapelle directed the "Natural Blues" video for Moby that featured Cristina Ricci's acting in a role of an angel. In 2000, this clip won the "Best Video of the Year" prize at MTV Europe Music Awards. In 2005, David directed "Rize" movie, documentary showing life of street dancers of Los Angeles. In 2015 he directed the "Take me to church" music video that made it's way to the top of many charts.

In 2003, David created the "Jesus is My Homeboy" series. A sensational thought hit LaChapelle's head: what if Jesus Christ's appearance was not 2 thousand years ago, but now? In the series, Jesus came to ordinary Americans: rappers and prostitutes, drug addicts and dealers, to hard workers and tramps. The apostles were shown as "tough guys" drinking beer at the Last Dinner. The series was published in i-D magazine, caused a dispute in society and triggered a scandal. LaChapelle was accused of blasphemy. As for the art sphere, world's wealthiest galleries recognized LaChapelle's works as masterpieces. As new Christ's moral pandered to pure consumption, photographs of the series placed on auctions were sold for at least $ 40,000 - while LaChapelle issued large runs.
David LaChapelle has launched several albums of his photography works. These include "LaChapelle Land", "Hotel LaChapelle", "Heaven to Hell", "Artists and Prostitutes" albums. All four contain vivid surreal portraits of celebrities and are made in rich colors, which became legendary photographer's hallmark.
Author Anna Laza
David LaChapelle Instagram
Find more about historical photographers in our Instagram