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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Maynard


Alexi Lubomirski interview for 5ELEVEN Magazine

The best stories are those that captivate you and that make you think, laugh, cry and stay with you. That’s what Alexi Lubomirski does so well as he recounts tales of his early career, his first cover and his work for charity. The depth of his passion and the way that he conjures a scene and tells stories both detailed and inflected with humour and compassion, reflects the same sentiment and skill that helps to reveal the true character  of his subjects on camera and make his photography so arresting.

Words by Leigh Maynard. All images courtesy of Alexi Lubomirski.

Alexi Lubomirski interview for 5ELEVEN Magazine. Julia Roberts. Los Angeles, July 2018
Julia Roberts. Los Angeles, July 2018

Lubomirski has amassed a creative portfolio that is rich and accomplished with photographs featured in a roster of global publications such as Harper’s Bazaar US, Vogue (Mexico, Germany, Russia, Korea and China), Numéro and Allure. His work features images of some of the most renowned creatives in their fields, from Beyoncé, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Kristen Stewart to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, whose engagement photographs were represented on a set of commemorative postage stamps in 2018.

Part of Lubomirski’s skill is the ability to listen, to really listen, because there’s a perception that what really drives him is not just his creativity but also his sense of responsibility – experiences in his formative years have seeded a passion for positive change and a love for humanity. A strict vegan and proud pet owner, Lubomirski has a deep respect for all living things. His dog is a rescue who, through his owner’s gentle compassion, has gone from nervous to nurtured and can testify to that. Lubomirski uses his artistry as a platform to celebrate his subjects and advocate for unheard voices and for causes that need greater attention. This love of people began early as Lubomirski’s childhood was far from  traditional. His parents relocated to various countries on adventures that, at the time, he didn’t appreciate but that he has come to recognise have shaped his empathic sense of the world. “Anything that takes you out of your bubble is good. I didn’t think I was lucky as a kid because I moved around often. My parents were in Botswana, and I was sent to boarding school in England. When you are a kid, all you want to do is be the same as everybody else. Everybody else went home at the weekend and went to Thorpe Park and did their things and ‘poor me’ had to go on a plane to Africa and looking back I thought, this was the most amazing thing because I got to see so many different countries. So many different worlds take you outside of your box.”

The chance to change his perception of the world was what initially led Lubomirski into photography. Having decided to study fashion design, he developed a collection of tailored suits when an artist at his school made him see things differently. “There was this guy called Kevin, a fine art painter who was also in the class, and he also introduced me to weed. During the lunch break, we used to head to the bus stop and get stoned. After lunch, I started drawing Superman and putting feather boas on him and crop tops. After a while, my teacher said, ‘You’ve created a niche for yourself. You will be the next Jean-Paul Gaultier’, and I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so!’” From there, Lubomirski entered the photography lab and expressed his desire to learn the craft. This love of the lens existed early, with the budding photographer using his younger siblings as subjects. “I used to have them lying on country roads pretending they were asleep. I said, ‘Pretend you are runaways,’ and they said, ‘What if a car comes?’ and I was looking at my camera saying, ‘Don’t worry about it’, ha-ha!”

The key to a great photographer’s craft is much more than clicking a button. It’s an elusive art gifted to only a few. What Lubomirski does so well is to capture the true embodiment of his subjects, drawing them out and getting the shot at that requisite moment. When asked how people interpret his style, he explains it has been described as ‘relatable elegance’. “So basically, I capture people looking their best but still relatable. It isn’t this unattainable thing. You see Julia Roberts laughing and smiling or just relaxed as if you were there rather than on a mountain top with panthers and pumas, whatever it is, ha-ha.” Lubomirski explains that the secret to capturing the essence of his subject lies in observation, taking time at the beginning to watch and gauge, and, most importantly, treating each session as a collaboration and an opportunity to build rapport, something he noted on set with Mario Testino. “I witnessed when working with Mario that you don’t have to be a technical genius for great photos. You can learn that from a book. It’s about connecting with people. I always allow myself five minutes, and it’s not so much what they say to me. It’s how they say it. I get such a high afterwards if I make the connection and have the picture I wanted, knowing that I have found a key. Trying to find the key is the most fun thing, and once you’ve found it and they suddenly open up, that’s where the magic happens.”

Alexi Lubomirski interview for 5ELEVEN Magazine. Victoria Beckham shot in London 2019
Victoria Beckham. London, October 2019

This photographic alchemy not only lies in the ability to relate but also in finding your unique voice by watching and learning from those who’ve found success. “I always say be an assistant. I don’t care if you have already been a photographer because once you are an assistant, you are a fly on the wall, you have no responsibility on your shoulders, and you get to see, it’s not just about taking pictures.” Lubomirski maintains that it’s finding that unique selling point that allows your work to stand out and advises young photographers to share personal projects that will enable them to show their singular vision and voice. This is what helped him to land his first fragrance job. “I went to the same creative director who’d seen me but not offered me work. He saw some pictures in the back of my portfolio and said, ‘What’s this? I said it’s nothing, just a personal project’, and he said, ‘Let’s bring it out and have a look’ and all of a sudden, it went from the usual 60 seconds of the meeting to 45 minutes, and we started talking about narrative in photography, and how you convey a message. Two weeks later, I got my first fragrance job with him, and I said what was different this time? And he said ‘I got to see what was inside your head.’”

You can discover the complete interview inside the Fall Winter 2023 Issue 11

Alexi Lubomirski interview for 5ELEVEN Magazine. Jessica Chastain, New York City, June 2021
Jessica Chastain. New York City, June 2021

Alexi Lubomirski interview for 5ELEVEN Magazine. Eddie Redmayne. Los Angeles, November 2022
Eddie Redmayne. Los Angeles, November 2022


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