It might be hard for renowned fashion photographer Arthur Elgort to narrow down on his favorite images shooting glamazons like Gia Carangi, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and the like. He makes a valid attempt with his latest tome Arthur Elgort: I Love, a joyful behind-the-scenes look at the iconic women he’s captured through the years in captivating, intimate settings. Designed with the help of the late great Steve Hiett, his aesthetic celebrating the varied forms of feminity shows his reverence for his muses, young and old. We chatted via email with the man himself to briefly reflect on his career and the friendships he’s made with his subjects.
What was your process curating images for this new book? What narrative were you focused on telling through the imagery?
My process for curating was simply pictures that have never been published before and that celebrate women in all their forms, all stages in life, and all their beauty.
Your visual work has the common intimate thread of capturing these big models throughout your career, most of the time ‘en plein air’. How did you come across that feeling of expression when you first started?
My studio was small and dark at the time and I wanted better light so I went outside!
As a creative, what do you think is important to understand of the photographer and subject relationship?
Trust is the most important thing – the subject has to trust the photographer. I make friends with everyone I shoot, I talk to them, get to know them. That’s the way to get good pictures.
What was your process for picking subjects for this book? Looking back who have been some of the models that you captured that really stood out?
It was all about seeing something new. Models that stood out to me were all the ones you would expect, like Christy and Kate and Cindy, and then others that maybe weren’t so big but that I had a friendship with, like Jeny Howorth for example, I loved photographing her.
You’ve shot all the big supermodels of the 90s but how do you currently feel about the modeling world right now? Do you think we’ll ever get close to the buzz of those moments again?
Yes, I do think we can be there if we want to – Supermodel is just a word that was made up and we all bought into it. It’s all PR. The girls today are just as good as the girls back then.
Do you recall your big break? Take us back to your first shoot where you thought, “now I’ve made it?”
It was Mademoiselle Magazine in 1969 with Elisabeth Nielsen. I felt lucky to be there, I’ve always picked the right girls, and had people telling me I was doing well, and it just was fun and came together for me then.
Looking back, what has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Each new job is my proudest moment. I’m proud that I’m still working and that I’ve had such a fun career.
Do you have any advice for upcoming photographers or models? What do you think is the best thing they should focus on positively to get into the business?
My advice is to learn to shoot film, not just digital. You will learn the craft so much better and be a better photographer for it.
What do you “love” the most about the fashion business?
I love that the business gave me a living, paid my bills, and gave me a great life. Grace Mirabella, and Alexander Lieberman, and Grace Coddington, and Anna Wintour, all these people who ARE the fashion industry helped me along and allowed me to do what I love.