David LaChapelle (born March 11, 1963 in Fairfield, Connecticut) is a photographer and video/commercial/film director who works in the fields of fashion, advertising, and fine art photography, and is noted for his surreal, unique and often humorous style.
LaChapelle attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and School of Visual Arts in New York City. His first photograph was of his mother, Helga LaChapelle, on a family vacation in Puerto Rico.
Andy Warhol offered him his first professional job as a photographer for Interview after meeting him at Studio 54 where Chapelle was working at the time. He has also worked for Rolling Stone, Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair throughout the years.
LaChapelle has four published books of his photographs, including LaChapelle Land, Hotel LaChapelle, Heaven to Hell, and Artists and Prostitutes. All four books contain vivid and surreal portraits of celebrities such as Marilyn Manson, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bündchen, David Beckham, Björk, Drew Barrymore, Shirley Manson, Courtney Love, Lance Armstrong, Angelina Jolie, Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Brook Shields, Leonardo Dicaprio, Amanda Lepore, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Madonna, P!nk, Rihanna, Kylie Minogue and recently Lady GaGa.
LaChapelle directed singer Elton John’s show, The Red Piano at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace, which premiered in 2004. The show features extensive use of video technology on an LED screen backing the show that, when built, was promoted as the largest and brightest of all time. Several of John’s songs during the performance are accompanied by short films by LaChapelle.
LaChapelle’s documentary, “Rize” (2005) on the krumping style of dance in South Central Los Angeles, premiered at Sundance in 2005 and was released theatrically that summer.
He has directed advertisements for major brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Lavazza, Nokia, L’Oréal, Diesel and Burger King. In 2006 he directed “Romeo and Juliet,” a five-minute commercial for H&M’s new denim brand and “Tis the Season to be Gorgeous,” a humorous Christmas commercial for UK retailer Boots Group showing glamorous-looking women doing relatively mundane Christmas tasks. Also in the UK, he directed the surreal Lost trailers for Channel 4, show the cast dancing in 1920s costume among the burning wreckage on the beach; whilst the cast voice-over such phrases as “one of us is a murderer”; “one of us is a junkie” etc. In addition to this, he directed Channel 4′s promotion of Desperate Housewives season one.
LaChapelle’s work has been described as surrealist, grotesque, shocking and ironic. His use of celebrities exaggerates aspects of their personalities and their personal lives.