The recorder of royal wed­ding

Shanghai Daily - - PEOPLE - Liu Xiaolin

Af­ter 15 years of tak­ing celebrity cover shoots for fash­ion mag­a­zines, por­traits for ad cam­paigns and events, a sin­gle as­sign­ment earned Pol­ish pho­tog­ra­pher Alexi Lubomirski his nick­name: “the royal wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher.”

Last year, he re­ceived a phone call from Kens­ing­ton Palace ask­ing him to take por­traits for the en­gage­ment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex.

“It was the worst day in my life,” he said. “My mother was hav­ing a brain tu­mor taken out. The doc­tors said it was a 50/50. I was so wor­ried all day long.

“In the back­ground the tele­vi­sion was say­ing ‘Prince Harry and Me­gan were get­ting en­gaged.’ And I didn’t pay at­ten­tion.”

Af­ter 10 hours he was sup­posed to hear from the doc­tors. In­stead, the call from Kens­ing­ton Palace came first.

“It (the news) made my mother re­cover much quicker,” he joked.

Lubomirski de­scribes snap­ping the en­gage­ment pho­tos as “sur­real, amaz­ing, crazy.”

It was a four-hour photo shoot, and by the end of the day, he was run­ning out of ideas. “It was cold … so I told him to take off his jacket, wrap around her and squeeze her. And she got all snug­gled, turn­ing around into him, and this mo­ment hap­pened,” he told Shang­hai Daily, shar­ing an in­ti­mate be­hind-the-scenes mo­ment.

“(Peo­ple) felt they were in­vited into a very pri­vate mo­ment and wit­nessed some­thing beau­ti­ful,” he said.

“The photo ‘hu­man­izes’ the royal cou­ple. It made peo­ple think, ‘Ah, they love each like we love each other’.”

The 43-year-old was re­cently in Shang­hai for his solo photo por­trait ex­hi­bi­tion “Se­lected Por­traits by Alexi Lubomirski.”

The show fea­tures more than 40 celebrity por­traits he has taken over the years, in­clud­ing Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Ju­lia Roberts and Emma Wat­son. It runs through Oc­to­ber 20 at MIFA 1862 in Har­bour City.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a pre­lude to his “Glam­con­scious” pro­ject, which will be launched next year. He in­tends to use his plat­form “in­spire for the right rea­sons, whether is for sus­tain­able fash­ion, no-fur, no ex­otic skins, or for pro­duc­tion that doesn’t harm en­vi­ron­ment, even health­ier eat­ing habits, such as go­ing ve­gan.”

Born in Eng­land, Lubomirski be­came in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy when trav­el­ing to Peru dur­ing his col­lege gap year, and “lack of pa­tience” led him on to turn pro­fes­sional.

“In pho­tog­ra­phy, you can cre­ate in a 10th of a sec­ond … you are work­ing with in­gre­di­ents that are al­ready half­made,” he said.

He worked as an as­sis­tant to famed fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher Mario Testino in Paris for four years af­ter grad­u­a­tion from col­lege, and then went out on his own. A year later, he got his first cover shoot for Harper’s Bazaar US, when the mag­a­zine was look­ing for some­one to fill in as some of its big names were quit­ting.

Apart from pure luck, he also at­tributes the take-off of his fledg­ing ca­reer to his in­quis­i­tive­ness. Shy as he is, Lubomirski loves the puz­zle of “get­ting con­nected to peo­ple.”

He has a “five-minute rule,” which is to talk to celebri­ties for five min­utes be­fore photo shoot to form a con­nec­tion.

“They might talk in a way where I un­der­stand they want to be treated like ‘the queen of the Eng­land,’ or they want to be treated as your best friends. Or they like dirty jokes, or no jokes. Or they just broke up with their hus­bands, or they just had a baby,” he said.

“If they just broke up with their boyfriends, I would be the per­son who was talk­ing all day long about how in­cred­i­ble new chap­ters are. If you just had a baby, I would talk about sleep habits and di­a­pers…” The trick is to earn the trust. “They trust you, and they will be will­ing to give you more,” he added.

Be­ing a vet­eran in an ever faster in­dus­try — a three-day as­sign­ment for 20-page ed­i­to­rial in the past could be squeezed into just a day now, plus a be­hind-the-scenes video and a fash­ion movie — it is vi­tal to trust gut in­stinct: the lit­tle voice “of­ten whis­per­ing but some­times shout­ing” in his mind.

Af­ter hush­ing that lit­tle so much at the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer, Lubomirski has learned to go with it.

Por­traits of Jen­nifer Anis­ton and Ju­lia Roberts by Alexi Lubomirski — Ti Gong

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