How did your journey into photography begin?
I started out as a textile designer at FIT. I was given a 110 Instamatic camera to make reference photographs of my friends that I wanted to paint. I liked the instant gratification of the photographic process, so I traded in my paintbrushes for a camera and started exploring this new creative medium. The Editor in Chief of the Soho News Annie Flanders saw my pictures and asked me to go to Paris to cover the fashion shows for her with one stipulation: I had to get a real camera. I bought a camera and read the instructions on how to load film into the camera on the flight to Paris. The energy of shooting backstage was intoxicating. On that same trip I found myself atop the Eiffel Tour with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol for the after party for Yves show. From that moment on, I knew this was what I was meant to do. I returned to New York, quit my job, and decided I was now a photographer.
Who was your very first celebrity subject and where did you photograph them?
The very first people I took photos of were Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent on top of the Eiffel Tower on that infamous trip to Paris that changed it all.
What do you love so much about Manhattan? How does it enable you to perform to your optimum creative level?
I love everything about Manhattan. It is a 24 hour 7 days a week city. From the couture-wearing socialites, to the village drag queens, everybody is a “somebody”. There is such a vibrancy of true New Yorkers, they are smart, sharp, fast, endlessly creative, and inspiring. I feed off the energy of those people and try and capture it all through my lens. I’ve called New York City “home” my whole life and I can’t imagine it any other way.
You certainly have an impressive list of subjects, from Johnny Deep to Salvador Dali. Who has been your most favourite person(s) to shoot throughout your career?
I love all the people I have photographed throughout the years. Meeting such great characters and personality truly opens one’s eyes to how many varieties of brilliance exist in this world. I could never just pick one.
How important is the art of photography to you?
Photography is my passion, my métier, and my muse. I love what I do and do what I love. That is the key to happiness.
What do you love most about fashion and its perfect marriage with photography?
My book ‘Backstage Dior’ is the perfect example of the relationship between fashion and photography. Fashion is my inspiration, and photography is my voice.
– Favourite restaurant in NYC? Robert at Columbus Circle in New York.
– Biggest vice? I don’t know when to stop.
– What album is doing the rounds in your car stereo or iPod? I love Jazz, Frank Sinatra and the Girl from Ipanema.
*THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY LARA ANTONELLI AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE MANHATTAN FASHION DIRECTORY. THANKS TO EDITOR ANGELIQUE MAX FOR ORGANISING THE INTERVIEW.