Harper's Bazaar (UK)


Celebrated in a new visual anthology and an exhibition at Claridge’s, Alexi Lubomirski’s portraits for Harper’s Bazaar capture a galaxy of stars from the worlds of film and fashion.

- By Brooke Theis

ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI HAS A NATURAL ABILITY to put the people he photograph­s at ease. ‘I have to find out who they are and who they need me to be for the day. Do I sense they want to be treated with the utmost respect… or that they like rude jokes?’ he says with a smile. ‘When they feel like I’ve heard them and I understand them, trust is born.’ His thoughtful approach, combined with deft camera skills and legendary charm (not to mention dashing good looks), has made Lubomirski the favourite photograph­er of the world’s most notable celebritie­s. He is drawn to images where his subjects appear at their happiest and, during his two-decade career, he has captured countless famous faces – including this month’s cover star Elle Fanning – in soft moments of reflection or peals of laughter.

The son of a Peruvian-English mother and a Polish prince, Lubomirski only learnt of his aristocrat­ic heritage at the age of 11, while living in Botswana – the same year his stepfather gave him his first camera, a discovery that enthralled him rather more. ‘I found the joy of taking pictures of friends, trying to show them in their best light,’ he says. He returned to the UK to study for an art foundation degree at the University of Brighton, specialisi­ng in fashion, before moving to Paris in 1999, where he worked as Mario Testino’s assistant for four years. Subsequent­ly, he began building his portfolio as a celebrity photograph­er, with early shoots featuring Renée Zellweger, Naomie Harris and Cate Blanchett.

In 2018, he was commission­ed to take Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official engagement and wedding photos, as well as portraits of King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort. In these, Lubomirski captures the more intimate side of a family usually portrayed in formal set-ups. One shot, for example, shows Charles midchortle, while Camilla’s hand rests on his knee. ‘What I noticed with the two of them is that, when nobody was looking, they would just be whispering to each other, smiling and laughing. It was like watching a new boyfriend and girlfriend,’ he says.

His long-standing relationsh­ip with Bazaar has seen him shoot many covers, including those featuring Olivia Colman, Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Aniston – all set to appear in his forthcomin­g book of 113 portraits, The Sittings (2003-2023). Julia Roberts, with whom he has built a particular rapport, has written the foreword. ‘Julia creates this familial vibe on set,’ he reflects. ‘When I do the light test, I’ll say something to make her laugh, take the frame and wait for two seconds while the image travels through the wires and comes onto the computer screen beside the clients. I will listen, and 100 per cent of the time, I hear this “Oh!” – this collective joyous sigh – because of that smile.’

While he was working with Lupita Nyong’o, he learnt that she loves to dance – so he decided to blast Prince songs from the studio speaker system. ‘I started dancing behind the camera, like a dad at a wedding. She began to move, too, and the whole crew lit up,’ he recalls. ‘Once that mood is set, you can carry it on for the rest of the day.’

To coincide with the release of The Sittings, Lubomirski is curating an exhibition of his works at Claridge’s ArtSpace with Bazaar’s creative director Tom Usher, so that visitors will have a chance to look at his portraits up close. ‘That’s the thing with being an artist,’ he says. ‘It’s not just about creating the work. You want to share it with other people so that, hopefully, they will feel the same emotion from it as you do.’ ‘The Sittings (2003–2023)’ by Alexi Lubomirski (£45, www.alexilubom­irski.com) is published on 24 April. All proceeds will be donated to Concern Worldwide. The exhibition will run at Claridge’s ArtSpace, from 24 April to 15 May.

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Right: Sienna Miller. Opposite, clockwise from top: Lupita Nyong’o. Olivia Colman.
Cynthia Erivo, all photograph­ed by Alexi Lubomirski for Harper’s Bazaar
Julia Roberts. Right: Sienna Miller. Opposite, clockwise from top: Lupita Nyong’o. Olivia Colman. Cynthia Erivo, all photograph­ed by Alexi Lubomirski for Harper’s Bazaar
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