Over the years, consumers have come to expect a certain quality when it comes to magazine covers and editorial prints. Whether it's in the pages of Vogue or Vanity Fair, people expect to see subjects lit by soft light against stark grey backdrops or gorgeous mansions. Creating photographs like these becomes a challenge when the photographer has to jump from portraiture to fashion to fine art. One photographer who makes the whole business look easy is Patrick Demarchalier.
Patrick Demarchalier is one of the fashion industry's foremost photographers. He began taking photographs at the age of 17 when he received a Kodak camera from his step father. He later moved to Paris and became a photographer's assistant, learning the tricks of the trade while on the set of magazine photo shoots. Demarchalier also worked in a photography lab, developing his negatives himself. He eventually climbed his way into becoming an assistant for a French Vogue magazine photographer before becoming one himself.
Demarchalier's first photographs for French Vogue caught the attention of one Condé Naste editor who brought him to New York in the early 1970s. He first worked on Glamour Magazine before being tasked to work on Vogue USA. Despite not knowing a word of English at that time, he soon became one of the most sought-after photographers in the fashion industry
Demarchalier's early years in New York helped him develop as a photographer as he was able to work with other notable photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson. He also got to work with the most famous fashion designers and supermodels of the 1970s. It was around this time the modern look and style of the fashion magazine were established, and Demarchalier played a big role in this format.
In 1993, Demarchilier shot Janet Jackson naked from the waist up save for a pair of hands covering her breasts. The photograph was used for a Rolling Stone magazine cover, and became one of Jackson's album covers. In 2009, the photographer appeared in the fashion documentary "The September Issue", a behind the scenes look into one of the fashion industry's most anticipated monthly magazine. In 2010, Demarchalier was one of the featured photographers in America's Next Top Model (Cycle 15).
Over the years, Demarchalier has jumped from one project to the next, but his heart remains with fashion. While his photographs might share the same look, he says that it's because of the lack of innovation in the fashion industry. He says, "Things change. Then, after a while, they come back. So things get longer and longer and longer. And then they get shorter and shorter and shorter. And at the fashion shows, people say, 'Ah! Fantastique!' - but things were like that 10 years ago; they go around. Only amazing designers think of the truly new."
Still, his photography has helped establish the classic look of the fashion magazine industry. In an industry that's bursting with new and talented photographers, fashion designers, set designers, make-up artists, and models, it's amazing how Demarchalier continues to stay relevant and innovative.
For more images by Patrick Demarchalier's images of Vanity Fair, Vogue and W nagazine, check out his website here. For printed editions, there are Patrick Demarchelier, Dior Couture and Patrick Demarchelier: Forms.