First of all congratulations on this book!
Looking at the book, going through the images, one of the things that struck me the most is the linking thread between all of them. Well, you feel that everyone in the portraits feels really good about themselves, you can tell they feel sexy and you can tell that they feel at ease, in an honest way. After feeling that through the images, I read the introduction of the book by actress Anne Hathaway, who appears on the cover. She finishes her intro saying how she felt beautiful for the first time when she shot with you. I’m not asking you to tell me the secret, but I felt that energy quite a lot. What is your way of interacting with the talents?
I think that the most important thing is to realize that you are in it together. You need to have a trust towards each other. You can’t photograph anybody who doesn’t wanna get photographed, right? So if you don’t build up this common trust right away, it’s very difficult. When I do a portrait, I own the picture of the person, it’s a second of that person’s life, and I want the people I photograph to be happy with the result. For me it’s a common respect. I am not tricking people, you know what I mean? I wanna make beautiful pictures, timeless pictures, that I can look at in ten or fifteen years, and the subject can look at in ten or fifteen years, and still be happy about it. I asked Anne to write the intro for the book. First of all it’s extremely weird to ask someone to write something about yourself.
Yes, I know that feeling, it can be a weird thing.
I asked her “Could you do it? Especially since you’re on the cover. It would be really nice”, and she said “Of course!”. Suddenly on a Sunday morning this email came through. When I read her words for the first time I got quite touched, it’s very powerful.
I was touched myself, imagine you!
I just had this feeling “Do I have this influence on people?”. It meant a lot.
It’s always hard to pick favorites, but is there a picture in the book that is more special than the others?
You know, there is a reason why all these pictures are in the book, I chose them between four or five thousand images. They’re all my favorites.
You got into photography when you were sixteen years old. Was that something you always wanted to do?
My father was a director and cinematographer. My mother was an actress. I grew up in that kind of environment. My grandfather was a very famous Danish painter, he did a lot of church decorations at that time in the 50’s and 60’s. So I guess growing up surrounded by artists made it really normal for me to pursue an artistic path myself.
If you were to give advice to your fifteen year old self, with all the experience you have now, what would you tell yourself?
To keep up the appetite. And how do you do that? That is the challenge.
How do you keep it up?
I try to keep being hungry. It’s a super important thing. The minute you don’t like what you do, the process isn’t nice anymore. I try to keep feeding my inspiration through my kids and traveling. The response from people on your work is also a big factor that makes you keep going. I think my next book is gonna be a little book of ten pages on one subject (he laughs). I have to say in the last seven or eight years these coffee table books have become slightly vulgar.
In what sense?
Maybe it’s a stupid thing, but a lot of people collect these books because they become part of an interior or showing “I was there”, you know? I don’t think people really look at them that much. I love books, I love to look at them. I was a little hesitant at the beginning, originally I wanted to do this book much differently, but I worked with the same art director who did my first book, Sam Shahid, who is an incredible guy who did all the books for Richard Avedon, all the books for Bruce Weber. He’s an incredible guy. I gave him all my pictures telling him “Let’s do something different!”. He came back to me telling me “Listen, my aesthetic is timeless. And the last book we did was such a big success, let’s do one similar, but different.” And in the end he was really right, I love the book. Now though, I am ready for the next one, we will see how that’s gonna be (he laughs).
You shot so many people. Is there anyone you haven’t shot yet that you would love to have in front of your lens?
Not really, but one of my dream subjects is in this book, Quentin Tarantino. He made a complete commitment to be on the shoot. Not a lot of people commit, some people don’t give a lot. He was so incredible to shoot. He’s obviously a personality that I had looked at, I had seen his work, I had met him in Cannes and a few other times, but always very briefly. Suddenly you meet the person, but you never know how they are gonna be on set. He’s a chameleon. I have to say, when I came over to him to share my ideas about the pictures, he was completely full on, a piece of clay, and that’s so beautiful for a photographer.
He sounds like the dream subject. Thank you so much for sharing Marc!