I was lucky enough to interview photographer Alexi Lubomirski for the May issue of Marie Claire. While I’d never put a name to his work previously, I was delighted to discover Lubomirski was the snapper behind some of my favourite editorials of all time, including this dazzling shoot with Kirsten Dunst, these stunning images of Sarah Jessica Parker and this ultra-noir session with Victoria Beckham.
Alexi was super generous with his time. And when my daughter walked in to our conversation mid-interview (the catch-up was scheduled for 6am, though we happily chatted to 7:30am) he suggested that I take some time to get her breakfast then call him back.
“The moment my son was born, I made a conscious decision to spend more time with my family,” he mentioned back on the line. “As a freelancer you always have that insecurity: you never pass any work up because you don’t know what’s coming next month. But I sat down with my agent and said ‘Look, we’ve got to work out some rules here’ and I’m very lucky that she accommodates me. Of course, as soon as you limit your availability, suddenly everyone wants you more!”
On working with Heidi Klum – German Vogue 2009
“In this shoot I directed a bunch of extras to recreate a beauty shoot from the ‘60s. We shot in this rundown motel with everyone crowded around Heidi Klum on a rickety old bed. Trouble was, the bed was so wobbly and the equipment so heavy that at one point the cameraman lost his balance and the camera went careering directly towards Heidi’s head! Luckily, the guy behind managed to grab him and angle him towards the floor instead.”
On working with Kirsten Dunst – Harpers Bazaar US 2008
“It was the last shot on this beautiful, sunny day so I said to Kirsten ‘Once I get these final frames you can jump in the pool’ – so she did. When she emerged, it was spectacular; one of those unexpected moments that’s simply amazing. I immediately dropped down and lay back to get the shots, so a few images have my unpedicured feet in them. The pool scene made the cover. But not my feet, fortunately.”
On working with Sarah Jessica Parker – The Edit 2013
“I’ve known Sarah Jessica Parker since I started, so we always talk about kids and life and she’s just delightful. What’s different about her is that she trusts – a lot of subjects want to see the screen after each shot, but she loves the art of photography and she knows how to make it work. Sometimes I’ll get these flashes when her hair dances across her face and I feel like an artist working with clay.”
On working with Beyonce – Harpers Bazaar UK 2011
“This was shot at the Ritz in Paris and was all about dark, voyeuristic sex appeal. I gave Beyonce the story: ‘You’re alone in the hotel, you have a kinky side” and she understood the character immediately. I looked like a fool trying to demonstrate a sexy pose in front of her, but during the shoot I had to pinch myself because exactly what was in my head had come to life.”
On working with Gwyneth Paltrow – Harpers Bazaar UK 2010
“Having children on a shoot changes the vibe – it has this way of softening people and distracting them from any insecurities. Gwyneth loved it! She had a child of the same age, so she automatically knew exactly how to talk to him and what he was interested in. Instead of this rich, extravagant setting, he took things down a notch and made it much more playful. You’d also get these unexpected moments – like when he decided to jump on the bed – and he’s there jumping and screaming and you could see Gwyneth truly loosen up and break her pose into this beautiful smile that was so much more.”
On working with Scarlett Johansson – Harpers Bazaar UK 2010
“The inspiration for this was a Burt Lancaster film from the ‘60s that was all about the faded American dream. I showed Scarlett the references and told her ‘I don’t want it to be happy – you’re the girlfriend of a guy who doesn’t treat you very well’ and from a few random comments she was able to capture that loneliness and utter isolation in her eyes.”