Arthur Elgort has a stylistic freedom that allows the spontaneous energy and joy of the moment to be expressed through an image. His photographs have the unforced look of a personal snapshot while they are simultaneously iconic chronicles of the culture of our time. As one of the first photographers to show models in a more natural state (they often wore little makeup and posed in outdoor settings), Mr. Elgort captured now-famous images of supermodels such as Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell for magazines and fashion campaigns.
Elgort was born and raised in New York City. Originally he was a painter, but that proved too lonely an art for him because Elgort thrived on human interaction. Turning to photography, his first images were of ballet dancers and their fluid elegance has informed much of Elgort’s improvisatory and active approach ever since. In 1971 he first achieved notoriety when his pictures of a model playing with a dog ran in British Vogue, lending a new dynamic to fashion photography. Elgort found a way to break free from the reigning tradition of the day. Setting his models away from the static and classically composed, he allowed them more space to move sending them into motion. The resulting pictures had buoyancy, lightness, and naturalism. In order to achieve this, Elgort often utilized his technique of “moving with the model” during a photo shoot, creating a type of dance shared between the artist and subject while he continually talked and clicked the shutter resulting in a vibrant aesthetic in his images. “He just sort of keeps talking and shooting, and eventually the models’ defenses break down and they’re just quite happy to leap over a wall,” says his longtime friend and collaborator, the Vogue editor, Grace Coddington.
Highly aware of a personal language of gesture, Elgort was attentive to the spontaneous action or movement of limbs that resulted in an exceptional image filled with life. He often incorporated humorous aspects filled with warmth and humanity, ultimately setting his fashion work apart by being disarmingly natural images creating joy through their charisma. He has worked at Vogue for over 40 years, producing iconic images of such models as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer. His pictures have appeared in Rolling Stone, Glamour, and GQ, and are found in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Elgort continues to produce his inspiring work while living with his family in New York.