Patrick Demarchelier is a recognized master of his craft, a world—class photographer, he was dreamed of by leading fashion houses in Europe and America. Today it became known that the legendary photographer died at the age of 78. We remember what he was like and how he changed the history of fashion and photography.
The profession of a photographer is always random. It just so happened — most often those who rush into it, taking countless diplomas and skills into the world of photography, as a rule, are left out. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s fate or sad statistics. Frenchman Patrick Demarchelier, about whom the entire world beau monde knows today, was no exception. He found himself in the world of the fashion industry by chance and thanks to his parents. Since childhood, which was in the 50s, Patrick was fond of photography, but he did not have his own camera, so the boy had to be content with albums and “take pictures with his eyes”.
Patrick Demarchelier’s work for Dior
The dream would have remained a dream if not for Demarchelier’s stepfather, who gave his son his old film Kodak for use. Like any European, Demarchelier quickly realized that a hobby could easily be turned into a source of income, and after a short time began to withdraw money from friends and relatives. Then there were countless photo studios where the future master of fashion photography was engaged in retouching and printing, small agencies, and finally, a meeting with one of the most popular photographers of that time, Hans Forer, who opened for Demarchelier a great profession. Already in the 70s, Patrick took the first pictures for the French editions of Elle and Marie Claire. Patrick Demarchelier has always been inspired by the works of Helmut Newton, Irwin Penn and Richard Avedon. He replaced the latter as a staff photographer in a number of magazines.
“My parents were very happy because I was a slacker and did poorly at school. Fortunately, my father lived to see my success.”
Demarchelier is just one of those lucky people who, once in the world of photography, was able to forget forever that he does not have a special education. Moreover, Patrick has no education at all. His whole study was just to shoot, shoot day after day. Perhaps, to break through to the top of Olympus objectively requires only two components: grandiose self-confidence and the ability to take risks. The photographer has both in abundance. Perhaps that is why in the 75th year, without a shadow of a doubt, he left everything and went to New York (note, with a zero level of language and having a minimum amount of money in stock “for the first time”).
“Basically I learned to take pictures… just taking pictures, taking a lot of pictures. I made a lot of mistakes, but they are the ones that teach the best. Working as a photographer is akin to sports: you have to train every day.”
“I moved up the career ladder slowly. I got one job, then another one that was better, and so on. I worked hard and hard. And it still happens like this”
In America, Demarchelier’s career took off. His pictures appeared on the pages of the popular glossy magazines Glamour and Mademoiselle. Unlike many other artists who are accustomed to seeing in their models exclusively a product, albeit an ideal, but still inanimate, doll body, Patrick was looking for the breath of life and natural beauty in men and women, which does not require technical corrections. His pictures are always simple — the photographer was not looking for any original locations or unimaginable poses, creating beauty is not in the rules of Demarchelier, it’s enough just to broadcast what you see.
“I try to create an atmosphere in which a person feels at ease. I don’t like the feeling that there is a camera between me and the subjects being portrayed, so I do everything possible to make them forget about it.”
However, despite a sufficient amount of work in the fashion field, Demarchelier could not achieve the main thing — fame. Let’s be honest, which of us, deep down, having a prestigious job and even good earnings, would not like to become popular. No one recognized Patrick on the streets, New Yorkers walked by the master in an indifferent crowd, not even realizing that he was behind the revolutionary pictures in the glossy magazines beloved by all women. They started talking about him thanks to a woman.
Her name was Diana. Princess Diana. Yes, yes, it was her. In the late 80s, she contacted a Frenchman and ordered a photo shoot from him. In one glossy magazine, Princess Diana saw a photograph of a French master, which depicted a girl opening her coat as if secretly showing a photo of a boy hidden in her breast pocket. The princess was so impressed by this picture that she immediately decided to find a Demarchelier. And in 1992, Patrick takes a picture of Diana, which received many flattering reviews, primarily for its unconventional naturalness. After the landmark shooting, Diana turned to Demarchelier more than once.
The Frenchman shot a lot not only the Queen of hearts, but also her children. By the way, the “successor” of Princess Diana, the wife of her eldest son, Kate Middleton, was not so condescending to the photographer and even refused to appear in his anniversary issue of Vogue, explaining that Demarchelier’s pictures are too “glamorous”, and besides, the photographer is an American of French origin. Catherine decided to give the British photographer a chance to become famous. Well, queens have to make mistakes, too. The result of such an unfortunate blunder we could observe on the pages of the magazine in 2016 — Briton Josh Olins managed to make an ordinary model out of the Duchess from the catalog of women ‘s clothing for the middle class .
Naturalness is one of the primary features that Demarchelier has always sought to emphasize in his works. Patrick did not like staged photo shoots and all his life promoted the aesthetics of the “random frame”.
After meeting Diana, Demarchelier’s life changed dramatically. Now everyone was talking about him, and what is important — they spoke with the same breathlessness that allows them to consider themselves a winner. By 1995, Patrick Demarchelier had already collected a huge archive of magnificent works and is widely known. This allows the French photographer to release his own photo album “Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs”. The book, of course, was an incredible success. Therefore, in 1997 he released another — a new album “Patrick Demarchelier: the discovery of elegance, and in 1998 – “Patrick Demarchelier: forms”.
Patrick Demarchelier for Pirelli
The final recognition overtook Demarchelier in 2005, when he was offered to become the next creator of the legendary Pirelli calendar.
In 2007, Demarchelier was awarded one of the most prestigious French awards in the field of art and declared his officer of the Order of Literature and Art. A year later, an exhibition of works by Patrick Demarchelier was held in Paris at the Little Palace. As many as four hundred photographs were placed on the walls, alternating with canvases from the museum’s collection.
Until his death, Patrick Demarchelier still lived in America with his family (the maestro had a wife and three children, but he never learned to speak good English (however, all Frenchmen sin). The eldest son Victor followed in his father’s footsteps and worked with Patrick in his New York studio.
“I have never sought success. I worked. When you’re young, you can’t think about success at all. You just have to do your job and try to do it better and better. And when the peak is reached, try to surpass it. And one day success will find you”
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