|Born||Mar. 11, 1963
Fairfield, Connecticut, US
David LaChapelle is a photographer from the United States. He is involved in both fine art and commercial photography, and he has also directed a number of films, including music videos. His photographs are sometimes socially aware, and they frequently involve references to the history of art. LaChapelle has published a number of books collecting his work and has received several industry awards.
LaChapelle was born in the Connecticut town of Fairfield on March 11, 1963, the son of a single mother. He became unhappy at home, and at the age of 15, he ran away to New York City. Here, he found work in Studio 54 as a busboy. His father came to take him away from that lifestyle and ended up taking him to North Carolina where he was enrolled in the Arts School.
His first known photograph was a study of his mother. This was taken in Puerto Rico during a family vacation. LaChapelle quickly saw the potential of photography for himself, and he soon became intensely interested in the subject. He soon decided to return to New York, settling there in 1980.
Breaking into a Photography Career
At this time, Andy Warhol remarked upon his photographic abilities, and LaChapelle secured employment as a photographer for Interview magazine. This magazine was, at the time, among the foremost in the country in terms of pop culture coverage. He took a number of widely circulated photos of famous figures for the magazine, and this work brought him wider attention.
By now, he was starting to be in demand all over the industry. The images he took were used in many renowned publications, ranging from Vogue Paris to The New York Times. LaChapelle continued to photograph famous figures, and his photos of the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton, and David Beckham were widely seen.
LaChapelle’s Later Work
By the mid-1990s, LaChapelle was sufficiently well known and there were demands for collections of his images in book form. He published LaChapelle Land in 1996, and a number of others have since followed. Meanwhile, he diversified away from a pure focus on still photography to begin making films.
He made several documentaries, but it is his music videos which have brought him the greatest success. He was the director of movies featuring artists of the caliber of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey. As well as his film work, LaChapelle also became involved in theatrical production.
Movies and TV Work
Among LaChapelle’s theatrical works are the Red Piano show featuring Elton John and a 2004 show at Caesar’s Palace. He also became involved in making public interest films, such as the Declare Yourself campaign of 2004. This was made in order to encourage young people to use their votes in elections.
In the same year, he made the short movie Krumped, which is about hip-hop culture in America. It was critically acclaimed and a prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival. He followed that up the following year with Rize, centering on the same subject. In 2006, LaChapelle suspended work on film direction to go back to taking fine art photographs.